Russian mobile giant MegaFon, which offers Long Term Evolution (LTE) services through a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with sister company Yota, has reportedly introduced its first LTE-suitable handset. The unspecified device is available to customers in all 81 cities where the network is currently up and running. Introducing the handset, the company reaffirmed its commitment to extending its 4G network on a nationwide basis; in accordance with the conditions of its licence MegaFon must invest at least RUB15 billion (USD458 million) in its network deployment on an annual basis until its rollout is complete. Earlier this month the company indicated that it did not intend to rollout LTE infrastructure in Moscow, and is content to leverage Yota’s existing network in the capital.
In other news, according to an unconfirmed report by the Prime-Tass news agency, VTB Group – which secured a USD2.4 billion takeover of Tele2 Russia earlier this week – has reportedly set its sights on securing 3G and 4G licences for the cellco. Despite strong subscriber growth, former owner Tele2 of Sweden came up against a regulatory brick-wall in its attempts to secure 3G and LTE concessions. Similarly, the cellco was prohibited from operating in Moscow. Repeated attempts by Tele2 to secure frequencies in the Moscow region have proven unsuccessful in recent years, and the operator relies on a roaming agreement with rival cellco MegaFon.