Unconfirmed press reports claim that Russian WiMAX-turned-Long Term Evolution (LTE) operator Scartel (Yota) will close down its Belarusian unit, Yota Bel, on 11 June 2012. Online news portal TUT says that the Belarusian business will terminate the provision of LTE-based services in Minsk and Grodno at that date, following a change in strategic priorities at the parent company. The decision will leave Scartel clear to concentrate on the development of its business in Russia. The news is a blow to the Russian group which only inaugurated a limited service in Belarus on 1 December 2011 and which only last month claimed it was forging ahead with a full commercial launch. In a statement, Scartel said: ‘We want to thank all of those that have used our services … we will return all the money spent on the purchase of our Yota products and pay for one month internet access’.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that Yota Bel attracted just 100 or so subscribers in its first weeks of operation and despite offering mobile internet access on a commercial basis from May 2012, subsequently suspended the connection of new subscribers and announced that it would shut down the LTE network on 11 June.