Russian cellular rivals Beeline (part of the VimpelCom group) and MegaFon have formed a partnership to jointly construct, operate and share 4G LTE radio access network (RAN) infrastructure across ten regions of Russia. Expenditure on the development and use of the base stations will be shared equally by the operators, thus accelerating LTE coverage penetration at lower costs, according to MegaFon’s press release. The joint 4G agreement aims to launch more than 1,300 additional LTE-enabled base stations in the Smolensk, Belgorod, Voronezh, Lipetsk, Bryansk and Arkhangelsk regions, the Republic of Karelia, and other regions, ‘after the second quarter of this year’.
A quote from MegaFon reads: ‘After the acquisition of Scartel, MegaFon owns the widest range of frequencies in the 2600MHz band in Russia, and the implementation of a joint RAN-sharing project with VimpelCom will allow us to enhance harmoniously our infrastructure in the 1800MHz band in the most efficient way. With this project, we are going not only to improve the existing network significantly, but also to rapidly launch LTE in new locations in the selected regions at a minimum cost.’
A Beeline spokesperson added: ‘With the start of this project with MegaFon, we have the widest 4G LTE network sharing partnership programme of any Russian mobile operator.’ TeleGeography notes that in two deals in December 2014 and December 2015 Beeline and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) agreed to jointly construct/operate LTE network infrastructure across a total of 56 Russian regions. Russia’s mainstream mobile network providers operate 2G/3G/4G services in 83 regions of the vast federal territory, excluding the former Ukrainian areas of Crimea and Sevastopol which are served by recently-formed small regional Russian companies.