According to Kommersant, Tele2 Russia intends to conduct an independent trial of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, and has applied to the State Radio Frequency Commission (SRFC) for permission to run tests in Pskov and Omsk, using previously awarded GSM frequencies in the 1800MHz spectrum band. TeleGeography notes that in February 2011 Tele2 petitioned Igor Shchyogolev, Russia’s Minister of Communications, for permission to join the new 4G research formed by the so-called ‘Big Three’ cellcos Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), Vimpelcom and MegaFon, alongside national operator Rostelecom, to prepare proposals for spectrum in the 2.5GHz band. The group’s central responsibility involved devising a scheme to convert pre-existing military spectrum for LTE use. Although the consortium maintained that smaller players would be permitted to join in with the research process in due course, no additional cellcos were ever allowed to participate.
Tele2, which first declared its interest in rolling out a 4G network in Russia in November 2010, cited its parent company’s prior experience rolling out 4G networks elsewhere in Europe. In August 2011, frustrated at the lack of progress, Tele2 conducted an independent study into the dual use of wireless frequencies in the 1800MHz band for both GSM and LTE services. After extensive research by equipment vendors Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) it was established that fourth generation services could 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 submitted a copy of the study to the SRFC, but Shchyogolev reportedly denied receipt of any such document. This time around, Strashnov says that Tele2 hopes to enlist a number of government institutions to participate in the tests, which ‘should enable the SRFC to consider the results on a par with the research consortium’.