Unknown Russian operator Antares is poised to commence testing of Long Term Evolution (LTE) in Moscow, according to an unverified report by Vedomosti. The company plans to use frequencies in the 1900MHz-1920MHz spectrum band, with download speeds of over 80Mbps targeted. A sum of USD400-USD500 million has been earmarked for the trial.
Whilst few concrete details are known about the company, its name has cropped up several times in recent years in relation to the deployment of LTE in Russia. One source claims that, along with sister companies Arktur and Integral, Antares received a batch of LTE licences in early-2008, covering the period between 18 April 2008 and 18 April 2013, with the concessions distributed as follows: Antares (17 regional licences covering 17 regions in central Russia (including Moscow) and seven regions in Siberia and the Urals; Integral (13 regions in the North Caucasus, nine in the Far East Federal District and twelve in Siberia); and Arktur (14 regions in Volga, the Urals and Bashkortostan, and ten covering north-western Russia and St Petersburg).
More recently, in January this year, Antares’ prospective LTE launch was mentioned again when local businessman Yevgeny Roitman acquired a 75% stake in Dominant, Vimpelcom’s ill-fated DVB-H mobile TV unit; the venture had been derailed by regulatory red-tape. At the time, Roitman expressed his intention to use the frequencies to supplement an LTE network currently being built by Antares, although it is not known what position or interest he holds within the company.
Antares previously hit the headlines in September 2010 when it reached an agreement with Vietnam Data Communications (VDC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vietnamese state-owned PTO Vietnam Post and Telecommunications (VNPT), to build a trial LTE network in Vietnam. At that time Antares was rumoured to be owned by British Virgin Island-registered Wagner Asset Management, although a company known as ‘E4’ has also been cited elsewhere as owning the firm. In related news, Bloomberg has reported this morning that state-owned national operator Rostelecom has targeted Antares for acquisition, with a view to securing the sought-after frequencies, although precise details regarding Rostelecom’s approach are unavailable.