Russia-based research firm TDaily says it has conducted the first fully independent study into the quality of Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile data services provided by the so-called ‘Big Three’ – Vimplecom (Beeline), MegaFon and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) – using methodology proposed by market regulator Roskomnadzor and approved by the Ministry of Communications (MinSvyaz). In a two-month study carried out in November and December, the agency investigated 4G mobile internet access in 15 cities with a population of more than one million, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the trio in terms of the quality of their services and coverage area.
TDaily found that in the cities studied, MegaFon performed best – in terms of 4G data rates – in eight of them, ahead of Vimpelcom (four) and MTS (three). It noted that the three mobile network operators (MNOs) are actively engaged in building out their 4G LTE infrastructure and in the last quarter, rolled out almost 6,000 new base stations in Russia between them taking the total to 27,500 by end-September (5,815 BTS: 3Q13, 842 BTS: 3Q12). In terms of distribution, MegaFon had deployed a total of 11,500 LTE-enabled BTS at end-September, compared to 10,900 for MTS and just 5,100 for Vimpelcom. Meanwhile, the study found that as of 1 December this year, the three MNOs had rolled out 4G services to 77 licence regions across the Russian Federation, of which only 13 were served by just one of the big three, namely: Belgorod region, Voronezh region, Transbaikalia, the Jewish Autonomous Region, Kurgan region, Kabardino-Balkaria, Udmurtia, Komi, Karelia, Kostroma, Krasnodar region, Tula and Ulyanovsk region. Finally, the firm confirmed that four regions – Kamchatka, Magadan, Norilsk and Chukotka – are currently without 4G.