MTS and Beeline switch on LTE in Kaliningrad and Yaroslavl, respectively; Base presses ahead with legal challenge over LTE frequencies

24 Dec 2014

Russian operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has commercially launched Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in Kaliningrad, covering all areas of the city including educational institutions. The launch means that MTS now offers ultra-high speed mobile internet in all regions of North-West Russia, with plans to continue its rollout to other regions in 2015 to meet future growth. The cellco’s first 4G network went live in Pskov region in November 2013, and was followed by simultaneous launches in St Petersburg and Leningrad regions the following April. Today, MTS says that LTE access is also available in the Republic of Karelia and Komi, Arkhangelsk, Vologda, Novgorod, Murmansk regions.

In a related development, MTS rival Vimpelcom (Beeline) has announced its latest LTE launch, this time in the city of Yaroslavl, located 250km northeast of Moscow. The beeline 4G service is available in all parts of Yaroslavl, it says, using the 2600MHz band. Beeline director Vasily Sereda says that the company expects the volume of mobile data traffic in the region to more than double as a result of the upgrade. It also recently launched a fixed broadband package with a maximum download speed of 356Mbps, he added.

Finally, Osnova Telecom (Base Telecom) is forging ahead with its legal challenge concerning the disputed award of its LTE frequencies. ComNews reports that the operator has filed an appeal to the country’s Supreme Court over a previous ruling by the authorities barring it from launching. The company had intended to switch on its commercial LTE networks this year, but the plan has been shelved indefinitely due to legal wrangling.

Earlier this year, the Moscow Arbitration Court postponed the hearing of a lawsuit filed by three companies claiming their rights to the radio frequencies previously awarded to Osnova Telecom (also known as Base Telecom). The three little-known companies – Vostok, Profinvest and Resurs –sued the State Radio Frequency Commission (SRFC) seeking to contest the allocation of frequencies in the 2.3GHz–2.4GHz range to military-backed Osnova in 2011. According to the report, Osnova has already spent RUB11 billion (USD308.5 million) to roll out LTE networks in 198 cities, but has failed to put them into operation due to regulatory red-tape. In its latest appeal, the operator is challenging decisions by lower-tier courts concerning 32 applications for frequency bands.