Russia round-up: FAS approves Tele2, Sotel deal; new MVNOs licensed; MegaFon launches dual-country SIM card

11 Apr 2014

The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has reportedly cleared T2 RTK Holding – the joint venture set up by Rostelecom and Tele2 Russia ahead of their planned merger – to acquire 100% of regional mobile operator Sotel. The last-named company is currently controlled by Rostelecom affiliate Bashtel.

According to an unconfirmed report by the Prime news agency, natural gas giant Gazprom and oil pipeline firm Transneft have both received concessions to operate as mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in Russia.

Mobile giant MegaFon has reportedly introduced a new dual-country SIM card that can be used in both Russia and Tajikistan, switching numbers when a subscriber enters the other country. TeleGeography notes that Tajikistan is one of the few external markets that MegaFon serves; other MegaFon units are Aquafon GSM in the Republic of Abkhazia and Ostelecom in the Republic of South Ossetia, both of which are breakaway republics of neighbouring Georgia.

Chechnya-based mobile operator Vainakh Telecom has deployed Svyazcom’s mobile number portability (MNP) platform reports, allowing the cellco to prepare its network in time for the government’s 15 April MNP deadline.

Vimpelcom (Beeline) has announced that it has upgraded the network quality of its 3G and LTE infrastructure in Astrakhan; the mobile giant inaugurated its 4G network in the region in November 2013 in an effort to fulfil its aggressive rollout obligations.