According to Vedomosti, Tele2 Russia has conducted an independent study into the dual use of wireless frequencies in the 1800MHz band for both GSM and Long Term Evolution (LTE) services. After extensive research by equipment vendors Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) it has been established that fourth generation services can theoretically be operated in the 1800MHz band without any discernible detriment to the quality of Tele2’s existing GSM operations; Tele2 Russia CEO Dmitry Strashnov has submitted a copy of the study to the State Radio Frequency Commission (SRFC), but minister of communications Igor Shchyogolev has reportedly denied receipt of any such document.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in February 2011 Tele2 Russia petitioned Shchyogolev for permission to join a 4G research consortium – formed by the so-called ‘Big Three’ cellcos Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), Vimpelcom and MegaFon, and fixed line giant Rostelecom – which was tasked with preparing a proposal for the conversion of pre-existing military spectrum in the 2.5GHz band for LTE use. The Swedish-owned cellco, which first declared its interest in rolling out an LTE network in Russia in November 2010, cited its parent company’s prior experience rolling out 4G networks elsewhere in Europe. Although the foursome conceded that smaller players could be permitted to join in with the research process in due course, Tele2 was never granted access to the project.
Whilst the use of 1800MHz frequencies for LTE is fairly uncommon, a handful of operators have launched 4G networks using that spectrum, including Omnitel in Lithuania and Aero2 and CenterNet in Poland. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, further 1800MHz LTE deployments are planned by Telstra and Vodafone Hutchison Australia (both Australia), VIPnet and T-Hrvatski Telekom (both Croatia) and SmarTone-Vodafone (Hong Kong) among others.