Russian WiMAX-turned-Long Term Evolution (LTE) operator Scartel (Yota) has revealed a number of details relating to its recent transition between the 4G technologies, technology website IDG News reports. Speaking at the Next Generation Mobile Networks conference in San Francisco earlier this week, Vartan Khachaturov, Yota’s chief quality officer, admitted that given the reduced time frame involved the company was unable to optimise its new LTE network prior to its commercial launch, leading to initially substandard transmission speeds. Khachaturov says that it proved impossible to run the two networks simultaneously and implement the transition gradually, because of interference between the WiMAX and LTE signals.
Although the operator staged a small LTE trial in Novosibirsk in December 2011, there was no way to turn on a large, citywide LTE network without first shutting down the WiMAX infrastructure. He commented: ‘Overnight we had to switch off WiMAX and switch on an LTE network that had never been switched on before. It actually somehow worked’. The company’s 1,400 base station LTE network was eventually lit in Moscow on 10 May, after the launch was postponed from 15 April following difficulties experienced by subscribers in replacing their WiMAX dongles with LTE devices in time for the switch-over; Yota offered free replacement devices for any customers who had been using its WiMAX services for two months or more.
Around 300,000 of Yota’s million-strong WiMAX subscriber base were based in Moscow, giving a strong indication of the company’s current LTE subscriber base. Last month witnessed additional LTE switch-overs in Krasnodar, Sochi and the Volga Region, whilst further network launches have been pencilled in for St Petersburg, Samara, Vladivostok, Ufa, Kostroma by end-2012.