Russian national operator Rostelecom has reportedly received the necessary approval of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to acquire WiMAX operator FreshTel group, which includes InterProject, Stolitsa, Progress and Orion. Rostelecom is yet to officially confirm the deal, but TeleGeography notes that in August this year Rostelecom was named as a potential buyer for the company after FAS gave its permission for a 99.9% stake in the WiMAX operator to be transferred from Cyprus-based Comenetti Investments to local financial group Vnesheconombank (VEB). It was widely reported at the time that VEB did not intend to hold onto the asset for long, and given that it holds a 3.79% stake in Rostelecom and the two companies have a close working relationship, a deal has always seemed likely.
Although FreshTel currently uses its 3.5GHz frequencies to provide wireless data transmission, the national operator plans to use its infrastructure to provide fixed wireless access (FWA) internet services; FreshTel’s networks are located in a few cities near Moscow and in Central Russia. Rostelecom says its decision to switch the group’s operational focus is driven by a desire not to create competition for its recently formed joint venture with Tele2, T2 RTC Holding, into which it has transferred all of its mobile assets.