A1, beCloud relaunch 4G in Gomel as part of national strategic partnership; VoLTE launched in a country ‘first’

18 Dec 2019

A1 Belarus (formerly VELCOM), a wholly owned subsidiary of A1 Telekom Austria Group, has announced the resumption of 4G LTE mobile internet services in Gomel as part of a strategic partnership with the country’s common infrastructure provider Belarusian Cloud Technologies (beCloud). Using the 1800MHz band, the two firms say that following optimisation and a doubling in network capacity, services have been restarted in Belarus’ largest regional centre.

A1 and beCloud announced the signing of a strategic partnership on 12 December 2019 which will see them working together to develop 4G mobile communication across Belarus, delivering LTE in 97% of the country where over 99% of the population lives, by 2023. The agreement reportedly includes LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology and will be implemented as part of the strategic partnership to expand the 4G network ‘including large and small cities and even rural areas’, says Helmut Duhs, A1 General Director.

The first stage of the project (end-2019) provides for: ‘simultaneous inclusion of more than 2,000 base stations operating in a radio frequency range of 1800MHz, which will make 4G communication available for A1 subscribers within the existing be loud LTE network. Currently, it covers all regional centres of Belarus including most large cities, such as Baranovichi, Bobruisk, Borisov, Volkovysk, Dobrush, Zhlobin, Lida, Mozyr, Molodechno, Orsha, Pinsk, Polotsk, Rechitsa, Rogachev, Soligorsk and others. Thus, 4G communications will be available for A1 subscribers in the territory where about 76% of the country population lives. The first cities where the 4G technology will become available for A1 subscribers as part of the partnership programme will be Gomel, Zhlobin and Bobruisk.’

Phase two kicks off in January 2020, meanwhile, and will use the 800MHz band to deliver 4G services in more rural areas, with A1 providing beCloud with access to its infrastructure for base station support, as well as access to a transport network based on hybrid, radio-relay and fibre-optic lines. Upon completion, A1’s 4G network coverage will match levels for existing 3G coverage area (currently more than 97% of the territory).

In a separate development, A1 Belarus has launched voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) technology, claiming a first for the Republic. The move allows its subscribers to make and receive high-definition (HD) voice calls within its 4G coverage area. VoLTE is expected to be available in all regional centres of Belarus, as well as in most large cities by the end of 2019, covering 76% of the population.