Russia’s self-styled ‘Big Three’ mobile operators Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), MegaFon and Vimpelcom, and national operator Rostelecom have all won federal licences to provide Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the 800MHz band, telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor has confirmed. Each company has been granted 2×7.5MHz blocks of spectrum covering the entire Russian territory. The frequencies have been distributed as follows:
Rostelecom: 791MHz-798.5MHz and 832MHz-839.5MHz;
MTS: 798.5MHz–805MHz and 839.5MHz-847MHz;
MegaFon: 806MHz–813.5MHz and 847MHz–854.5MHz;Vimpelcom: 813.5MHz-821MHz and 854.5MHz–862MHz.
Each recipient is obliged to commence offering commercial LTE services no later than 1 January 2012, and offer 4G technology in all towns with at least 50,000 residents by 2019. The interim year-by-year rollout schedule is as follows: six regions by end-2013; twelve regions by end-2014; 20 regions by end-2015; 30 regions by end-2016; 50 regions by end-2017 and 60 regions by the end of 2018. Likewise, each operator must invest at least RUB15 billion (USD458 million) in its network deployment on an annual basis until its rollout is complete.
As anticipated by industry insiders, the tender saw a number of other telecoms operators squeezed out, notably Summa Telecom, TransTeleCom (TTK) and Tele2-Voronezh and Tele2-Omsk, a pair of subsidiaries owned by Tele2 Russia.