Tele2 Russia, part-owned by national fixed telco Rostelecom, is preparing to launch a pilot 450MHz 4G LTE mobile broadband network on 27 May in the Tver region, under a strategy to expand its existing LTE coverage in frequency bands including the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2300MHz ranges. ComNews quotes Tele2’s director of strategic planning Svetlana Skvortsova, who announced that by the end of June Tele2 will launch LTE-450 networks in another five regions – Moscow (metropolitan), Moscow region, St. Petersburg, Leningrad and Novgorod. China’s ZTE is understood to be providing technology including user terminal equipment for the initial LTE-450 pilot, whilst another Chinese vendor, Huawei, is being lined up as an additional partner for further LTE-450 rollouts. According to Ms Skvortsova, subscribers will be able to purchase 4G devices including smartphones/tablets which support LTE-450 as well as other bands including 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2.6GHz ‘which is unique to the Russian market.’ She added that the 450MHz LTE deployments are aimed at covering areas where operators would otherwise consider high speed broadband network rollouts to be economically unfeasible.
The 450MHz frequencies were formerly held by CDMA-450 provider SkyLink, a subsidiary of Rostelecom, which tested LTE-450 technology in late-2013. In August 2014 all mobile (2G/3G/4G) spectrum licences allocated to Rostelecom were transferred to the newly restructured Tele2 Russia, which is 45%-owned by state-controlled Rostelecom, whilst government-backed bank VTB Group is the next largest shareholder with 27.5%.