MTS Belarus has switched on its third 3G/3G+ frequency channel in the country, to help increase throughput capacity on its W-CDMA networks, BelTA reports. The 5MHz of additional frequencies in the 2100MHz band will be used via 500 base transceiver stations (BTS) around the Republic, said MTS head of network development Artem Maximenko, covering areas of high traffic to improve capacity and coverage. The first BTS to use the third frequency channel was switched on at Independence Avenue in the capital, Minsk. The HSPA+ capable mobile sites will support maximum download speeds of 21Mbps, he said. Going forward, MTS Belarus has plans to acquire a fourth 3G/3G+ frequency channel from the government, but its proposal is subject to it receiving the go ahead from the regulator, the State Commission for Radio Frequencies. MTS Belarus and rival Velcom recently paid EUR9.5 million (USD12.9 million) each for the rights to a third channel of spectrum. The additional frequencies are needed as both cellcos are close to full utilisation of their second carrier channels in urban areas. In Minsk, for example, MTS uses it at 77% of its BTS and Velcom at over 70%.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Velcom has started to implement the third 3G/3G+ UMTS frequency channel it purchased from the government, and is actively working to improve its network coverage and capacity – especially in the capital Minsk and in the areas with the largest network traffic. The deployment of the new base stations will begin this month, it said. As of 31 December 2012 Velcom’s 3G/3.5+ network coverage stood at 100% of the urban population.