Russia round-up: TTK reins in 2015 investment; Tele2 launches 3G in Chelyabinsk; MinSvyaz reports solid support for tech-neutral licensing; MegaFon network update; MTS turns back on Rainbow

28 Nov 2014

The vice president of TransTeleCom (TTK), Svetlana Shamzon, has said the carrier intends to ‘prune investment’ in fiscal 2015 due to the weakening financial situation in Russia. ComNews reports Ms Shamzon as saying that the economic slowdown and the fall in the local currency, the ruble, is by and large responsible for the change, although she also noted that having invested heavily this year, much of the expansion work it planned to carry out has already been completed.

Mobile network operator Tele2 Russia has started commercial operation of its 3G network in the Chelyabinsk region – the third area to benefit from the advanced mobile service. Currently Tele2 Russia says it provides 3G coverage in the territory of Chelyabinsk, Magnitogorsk, Miass, Chrysostom and the neighbouring settlements of Chelyabinsk region. In the short-term, the cellco plans to increase the number of base stations in its network by 70%, as well as improving capacity on its transit network to cater for increased demand during peak periods.

Russia’s Ministry of Communications (MinSvyaz) says that a total of 77 federal regions have signed up to the principle of technology neutral licensing in Russia, leading to the reissuing of 39 mobile operating licences to date. MinSvyaz boss Nikolai Nikiforov said: ‘The first year [following the implementation of] the principle of technological neutrality has shown that our expectations were completely justified. Operators have reported that the decision has resulted in a high level of cost-effectiveness, while the high number of licences reissued under a technology neutral basis has improved coverage of remote towns and villages, across Russia.’ The State Radio Frequency Commission (SRFC) approved technology neutral licensing in the 890MHz-915MHz and 935MHz-960MHz for the development of 3G networks, as well as frequency bands 1710MHz-1785MHz and 1805MHz-1880MHz for 4G LTE, in December 2013, while the process had been extended to LTE networks in the 450MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz bands by mid-2014.

One of Russia’s main cellcos, MegaFon, has provided a market update on its 2G, 3G and 4G network expansion covering the St Petersburg and Leningrad regions, noting that a total of 500 new base transceiver stations (BTS) were deployed in the first ten months of this year. In addition, to the new BTS, MegaFon says it also increased capacity for mobile data services. Specifically, in the past two months, MegaFon said it improved LTE coverage in a number of areas of Leningrad, including Gatchina, Vsevolozhsk, Vyborg, Lomonosov, Pine Forest, Ulyanovka, Boksitogorsk, Divenskaya, Kiselny, MGE, New Ropsha, Podporozhie and Pine. Finally, in September this year the operator also launched an LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service providing central parts of Petersburg with mobile internet access at speeds of up to 300Mbps.

Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has decided against buying the satellite operator Dalgeokom, which offers services under the brand name Rainbow TV, opting instead to develop its own satellite TV recently launched under the MTS name.