According to reports in Vedomosti, Russian mobile operators Osnova Telecom and Rusenergotelekom could both be awarded Long Term Evolution (LTE) frequencies this week, despite protests from the country’s ‘Big Three’ mobile operators: Vimpelcom, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and MegaFon. Russia’s Ministry of Defence currently holds the bulk of the country’s frequencies, and MTS, MegaFon and Vimpelcom have protested against the lack of transparency in the government’s allocation of the 4G frequencies, going as far as sending a letter of complaint to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
According to an inside source interviewed by Vedomosti, a ‘secret’ meeting of the State Committee on Radio Frequencies (CSR) in which the allocation of the frequency ranges 2.3GHz-2.4GHz and 2.5GHz-2.7GHz was due to be discussed – was postponed last week after Communications Minister Igor Shchegolev was asked why a public resource was being distributed behind closed doors. The anonymous source claims that numerous CSR officials have taken a leave of absence in order to avoid participation in the controversial decision-making process.
As reported in TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate last month, the aforementioned letter warned the government that if the small companies decide to build 4G networks, it would take much longer than the top three cellcos. They estimated that creating a 4G federal communications network from scratch could cost as much as RUB216.30 billion (USD7 billion), and take up to seven years, severely undermining future investment opportunities. Nicholas Tamodin, General Director of Osnova Telecom, has claimed that his company would be able to roll out its network within two years, for less than USD2 billion.