Belarusian Cloud Technologies (beCloud), Belarus’ designated 4G infrastructure provider, has published an update on its LTE rollout programme, noting that by the end of 2019 its network comprised 2,090 base stations, up 25% year-on-year, with 529 new base stations added during the course of the year, and a further 800 or so upgraded; its network utilises three bands, 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz. The infrastructure provider is tasked with providing a common network for the country’s incumbents – MTS Belarus, A1 Belarus (formerly VELCOM) and Belarusian Telecommunications Network (BeST, life:)) – and highlighted that by 1 January 2020 its signal was live in 177 towns and cities, while the share of active users across the network increased by 46% and the annual total 4G subscribers traffic exceeded 280 petabytes. In particular, the company noted that last year it worked to strengthen its presence in the regions and in rural areas, given that fourth-generation mobile services are considered ‘especially relevant for small towns’ where mobile internet is the ‘best and often the only way’ to access the web.
beCloud’s long term plans, meanwhile, are to continue the development of LTE in Belarus and prepare for the launch of 5G technology. The company launched the first experimental zones for 5G in Minsk, in December 2018, working in partnership with Ericsson of Sweden. In July 2018 it was reported that the Operational and Analytical Center (OAC, a body working under the Office of the President), beCloud and the Turkish telecommunications giant Turkcell had held strategic talks concerning the development of 4G and 5G services in Belarus, while in October 2019 BelTA reported that the government of Belarus is considering several options for building out a 5G network, and to that end had welcomed proposals from the incumbents on how best to proceed.