Russian mobile operator SMARTS Group has completed the deployment of a pilot Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in Ufa, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bashkortostan. Kommersant reports that the trial network, which is utilising seven base stations supplied by Ericsson, will re-use SMARTS’ existing frequencies in the 1800MHz spectrum band. The trial, which also involves the cooperation of the Radio Research and Development Institute (NIIR), is expected to be completed later this spring, whereupon SMARTS will present its findings to the State Radio Frequency Commission (SRFC). However, SMARTS Group director Alexander Kurochkin remains circumspect about his company’s chances of actually securing an LTE licence, describing the licensing process as ‘insanely complex’. Kurochkin commented: ‘The company has tried to get this licence 800,000 times, and now we have decided to show that this technology in our country may work, if we were allowed to use it’.
Although the SMARTS executive claims that his company is the first in Russia to test LTE in the 1800MHz band, it has already been beaten to the punch. As TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported last month, Swedish-owned mobile operator Tele2 Russia tested LTE technology in Omsk, a city in south-western Siberia, using 1800MHz spectrum. The trial, which was approved by the SRFC, aimed to demonstrate that GSM and LTE technologies can share the same frequencies without degrading the quality of end-user service.