Russia round-up: MTS and Vimpelcom (Beeline) discuss LTE network sharing; Beeline, MegaFon extend their LTE coverage; MTS to offer satellite TV; NetByNet unveils WiFire; and TTK completes corporate reorganisation

12 Nov 2014

Russian mobile operators Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and Vimpelcom (Beeline) are considering the possibility of building and sharing Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in several regions across the country to reduce CAPEX outlay, Vedomosti reports, citing two people close to the cellcos. The move comes as the Ministry of Communications (MinSvyaz) confirmed that the necessary regulations to make it happen are almost ready.

In the meantime, Beeline says it has launched a 4G network in the Orenburg region, benefiting residents of Orsk, Orenburg and the nearby settlements of Vesenny, Kuybysheva, Nezhinka, Pavlovka, Prigorodnoye, Rostoshi and Solnechny, amongst others. The cellco says its LTE network will deliver maximum data speeds of over 70Mbps, with an average throughput of between 10Mbps and 20Mbps. Mirroring its rival, another Russian cellco MegaFon has extended the reach of its own LTE network in the city of Surgut, Yugra region – promising peak downloads of up to 75Mbps. Having rolled out its 4G networks to two other cities in the region – Nefteyugansk and Nizhnevartovsk – last year, MegaFon is now planning to add Yugorsk and Khanty-Mansinsk to its 4G footprint by the end of 2014.

MTS has issued a press release concerning the launch of its own satellite DTH platform, ComNews reported. Marking it out as the first of the country’s ‘Big Three’ cellcos to dip its toe in the satellite TV market, MTS’s television packages will offer a number of prime channels, such as National Geographic, Discovery, Paramount, Fox, as well as channels in foreign languages, including French, German, popular sports broadcasts and children’s channels, over-the-top (OTT) services, catch-up TV and video-on-demand (VoD). Users will be able to watch HD-TV and surf the internet, it says, and can connect their new set-top box (STB) via Ethernet or Wi-Fi. The basic TV-only package includes 160 channels and is priced from RUB100 (USD2.15) per month. MTS is investing RUB5 billion in the project over the period 2014-2016.

NetByNet, the broadband subsidiary of mobile operator MegaFon, has launched its WiFire Project, which aims to offer an integrated wireless and digital TV service over a home-based Wi-Fi network. The carrier’s new hybrid network will allow its subscribers to create a Wi-Fi-network at home by purchasing a Wi-Fi-router and STB, and take advantage of wireless digital television. Further, WiFire subscribers will also be able to tailor their package to suit their needs, it says, with the minimum price of wireless broadband internet access costing RUB450 per month for a maximum 50Mbps connection and ten TV channels. NetByNet’s new service is capable of operating in two bands – 2.4GHz and 5GHz – it says.

Finally, Kommersant writes that fixed line operator TransTeleCom (TTK), a 99% subsidiary of the state’s Russian Railways division, has completed a corporate reorganisation exercise, in the process connecting a number of regional companies and ‘newly acquired’ assets to its infrastructure. The telco says part of its strategic goal, under the restructure, is designed to increase its market valuation to RUB75.4 billion in 2015. Under the plan which started in March 2014, TTK has created 18 new ‘macro-regional’ branches – all of which are 100% owned by the parent group. In FY 2013, the carrier booked revenue of RUB27.4 billion and OIBDA of RUB5.2 billion, and by 30 June this year served 1.3 million customers – or 5% of the overall broadband subscriber market.

Russia, Beeline (Russia), MegaFon, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), NetByNet (owned by MegaFon), TransTeleCom (TTK)