Unconfirmed rumours circulating in the Belarusian press suggest that local mobile operator MTS Belarus will launch its fourth-generation LTE network in Minsk on 19 December, in partnership with the country’s de facto 4G infrastructure provider Belarusian Cloud Technologies (beCloud). News journal Onliner.by claims that the official launch ceremony is expected take place on that date, with unnamed sources suggesting that a number of regional cities will go live with LTE next year. It is understood that MTS Belarus will launch using between 120 and 150 4G base transceiver stations (BTS) belonging to the infrastructure operator, which will not be offering services directly to end users.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, beCloud owns a 15-year licence to operate 4G LTE services in Belarus in the 1710MHz-1730MHz/1805MHz-1825MHz and 2530MHz-2565MHz/2650MHz-2685MHz bands. In October this year it began field testing its new network in a live situation in the capital Minsk, ahead of a planned commercial launch – which it said was expected later in the year. beCloud is building the network that will be used by all three mobile operators – MTS, Velcom and life:) – and reportedly switched on its new 4G network that month, which bloggers reported could be found when searching for available mobile networks, even though users are currently unable to connect. In April 2015 beCloud and MTS confirmed the successful completion of LTE pilot trials at the Tibo-2015 exhibition, achieving peak data speeds of 250Mbps. Ultimately the infrastructure provider intends to launch 4G in all regional centres by the end of 2016 and expand to all settlements with a population of over 50,000 by end-2020. A tender to acquire LTE equipment was issued in May this year and, once completed, beCloud’s LTE network will provide access to high speed internet and TV, as well as healthcare and education services.