FAS permits MegaFon, Beeline, Rostelecom to pursue 5G sharing proposals without MTS

6 May 2021

Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) has given ‘preliminary consent’ to an agreement to jointly develop 5G mobile networks proposed by major cellcos MegaFon and VimpelCom (Beeline) with Rostelecom (parent of cellco Tele2 Russia) and Rostelecom’s subsidiary Bashinformsvyaz (Bashtel). In a disclosure on its website, the FAS said: ‘The joint venture agreement, if implemented, contains conditions for equal access to radio frequencies for all participants in the mobile radiotelephone market. In particular, the telecom operators participating in the transaction will develop and agree with the antimonopoly authority the conditions for the use of infrastructure and (or) the sharing of radio frequencies and the conditions for the provision of infrastructure for MVNOs.’

The decision was similar to one issued by the FAS at the start of 2021, except the previous announcement did not specify the list of participants in the proposed 5G joint venture. The latest announcement indicates that Russia’s cellular market leader Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has now dropped out of negotiations on forming a 5G network sharing initiative. MTS holds the country’s only commercial 5G spectrum licence issued to date, a nationwide mmWave 24.25GHz-24.65GHz concession, awarded in July 2020 for five years, although this band is initially earmarked for localised industrial applications. MTS also launched the country’s largest-scale 5G pilot to date, in March 2021 when it switched on 14 network zones in Moscow utilising the 4.9GHz band for usage by selected subscribers with compatible devices on an invite basis.