Big three cellcos oppose idea of single 5G infrastructure operator

31 Jan 2019

Russia’s three largest mobile operators, MTS, MegaFon and Beeline, are opposed to the idea of creating a single infrastructure operator for the development of 5G networks, whilst national fixed network provider Rostelecom and its associate cellco Tele2 Russia are in favour of the proposal, according to senior company executives quoted in a report by TDaily. With the parties entering talks with sector authorities on the potential single 5G infrastructure venture, the report adds that the Federal Antimonopoly Service has indicated its initial disapproval of the proposal.

Note that one of the ‘big three’, MegaFon, formed a joint 5G infrastructure venture with Rostelecom at the start of this year. While head of MegaFon Gevork Vermishyan has said he is in favour of a consortium or partnership between all operators to develop 5G frequency bands, he does not support the use of a single infrastructure provider for the entire sector. On the other hand, Sergei Emdin, CEO of number four player Tele2 Russia, supports the infrastructure proposal on the basis that it will allow cellcos to optimise costs.

According to Oleg Ivanov, deputy minister at the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications & Mass Media, a decision on the single 5G infrastructure operator proposal will be made this spring, potentially halving the overall cost of 5G deployment. Meanwhile, pilot 5G services are expected to launch in selected regions this year under trial permits, some of which have already been issued. ‘Mass market’ 5G usage is not expected until 2021 in Russia.