Rostelecom given belated clearance for LTE rollout

1 Dec 2011

Russia’s Ministry of Defence is believed to have granted permission to state-owned national operator Rostelecom, to commence work on the deployment of its long-delayed Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, almost two years after it won the concessions, which cover frequencies in the 2.3GHz–2.4GHz band. In March 2010, in a spectrum auction held by the Ministry of Communications (MinSvyaz), Rostelecom claimed 38 of the regions covered, while its Sibirtelecom subsidiary acquired a concession covering Tomsk, and local operator Vainakh Telecom purchased frequencies relating to the Chechen province. Under the conditions of the licences, the operators were given 18 months to build and launch 4G networks using Russian-made equipment in their respective areas. However, that timeframe was cast in doubt when the Ministry of Defence declined to free up the frequencies, with a view to transferring them to Osnova Telekom, a controversial start-up company 25.1%-owned by Voyentelekom, which is itself controlled by the Ministry of Defence.