Armenian alternative broadband operator Ucom, which completed the merger and reorganisation of its recently acquired Orange Armenia unit in January 2016, has revealed plans to invest AMD16.6 billion (USD36.1 million) to complete the modernisation of its networks in 2017. In a press release, the altnet confirmed that a total of AMD28 billion was spent last year on ‘reequipping’ the company and another significant sum is earmarked for the current financial year to complete the process.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in March 2016 Hayk Yesayan, the CEO of Ucom revealed that the company had signed a ‘major contract’ with Ericsson of Sweden for the supply of a new 4G LTE network for newly renamed cellco U!com. Three months later, the pair signed a second contract worth USD12.29 million for the further expansion of the operator’s in-deployment LTE radio access network, noting that the deal would include a capacity increase of the service provider’s core network, improved functionality and the modernisation of the legacy 3G system. Then in September, Ericsson successfully deployed an LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network for U!com in the capital Yerevan to meet growing demand for data traffic and ensure the 4G+ network delivers peak throughput of up to 250Mbps. Furthermore, Yesayan has said that ultimately the altnet’s 4G network will cover more than 95% of the population, with initial base stations deployed in Yerevan and the regions.
In respect of its fixed infrastructure modernisation plans, meanwhile, in October 2016 Ucom selected Software Defined Access (SDA) developer Calix to provide it with its suite of AXOS, Compass cloud, and E-series systems, under measures to converge Ucom’s nationwide fibre access networks into one combined 10Gbps business, mobile backhaul, and residential services network. Under the plan, Calix aims to provide Ucom with an integrated fibre-optic network, with initial trials of Calix AXOS next generation passive optical network 2 (NG-PON2) systems scheduled for H1 2017.