According to Kommersant, Russia’s State Commission for Radio Frequencies is poised to grant Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable frequencies to Osnova Telekom later this month. The start-up company is partly owned (25.1%) by Voyentelekom, which is itself controlled by the Ministry of Defence. The remainder of Osnova is owned by Vitaly Yusufov, the son of a former energy minister and influential Kremlin insider Igor Yusufov – leading to widespread accusations of nepotism.
As previously reported in TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in July the so-called ‘Big Three’ mobile operators – Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), Vimpelcom and MegaFon – lobbied Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, warning that if a newcomer rolled out a 4G network from scratch, it would take far longer than if one of the more established operators were to do so. The cellcos estimated that creating a national 4G 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. Kommersant, citing two unnamed sources close to the State Commission for Radio Frequencies, suggests that the aggrieved trio will be offered LTE frequencies in exchange for them agreeing to co-finance the federal LTE conversion. None of the operators involved were available for comment.