Russian telcos Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and Vimpelcom (Russia), part of Netherlands-registered Vimpelcom Ltd, have struck a partnership agreement to develop and share Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks in the Federation and across the CIS region. It is understood the deal will see the pair rolling out 4G LTE services in 36 Russian regions within the next 24 months, with MTS set to carry out the build-out in 19 areas and Vimpelcom, 17. The partnership agreement includes the deployment of base transceiver stations (BTS), mobile sites, transport networks and ancillary infrastructure which will then be shared by the two cellcos for an initial period of seven years.
Commenting on the tie-up, Andrei Dubovskov, MTS president and CEO, said: ‘The partnership between MTS and Vimpelcom sets a precedent for sharing active network infrastructure in Russia … [enabling] each operator to construct networks in regions where building networks independently had not been attractive from commercial standpoint and will ensure better coverage through greater choice of sites for base stations.’ Dubovskov went on to say: ‘In practice, this means that within two years, the advantages of mobile broadband will be available to millions of our customers in 36 regions not only in big cities, but in smaller population centres as well. This ambitious project has been made possible by legislative initiatives put forward by the regulator.’
For its part, Vimpelcom is expecting that over 50% of Russian data service users will have moved over to 4G by 2019. Its CEO Mikhail Slobodin said: ‘Expanding the 4G/LTE networks in Russia will enable an improved experience for customers of both VimpelCom Russia and MTS and allow for continued mobile data growth. We expect the agreement to improve the availability and quality of the services to our customers.’