According to a report by Vedomosti, national operator Rostelecom plans to acquire sister company SkyLink from the pair’s parent, Svyazinvest, with a view to merging it with its other mobile assets. Rostelecom CEO Alexander Provotorov told Vedomosti: ‘Scenarios of the transaction are still being worked out. We have different mechanisms that can be used for this purpose. The final decision on the scheme has not yet been decided’. Whilst the details of a merger are being ironed out, Provotorov indicated that Rostelecom plans to make use of SkyLink’s enlarged frequency resources through a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) arrangement.
The two companies have already taken notable steps to create operational tie-ups in recent months, and in September 2010 SkyLink confirmed that it was awaiting a decision from the regulatory authorities on the provision of Long Term Evolution (LTE) in the 1800MHz band, claiming that it had already secured the equipment to commence a joint LTE rollout with Rostelecom. SkyLink holds frequency rights in the 450MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz and 2100MHz bands covering 96% of the Russian population.
This week’s development follows the 1 April conclusion of Rostelecom’s so-called ‘mega-regional merger’, which saw the national operator consolidate seven regional telcos into its central operations. North-West Telecom, CenterTelecom, Southern Telecommunications, VolgaTelecom, Uralsvyazinform, Sibirtelecom and Far East Telecom had all previously operated under the control of state-owned telecoms holding company Svyazinvest. Last week Rostelecom announced that it intended to secure 22% of the wireless broadband market by 2015, up from around 9% at present.