Tele2 Russia has signed a follow-on agreement with Ericsson to double the number of 5G-ready base transceiver stations (BTS) being deployed by the Swedish vendor over the five-year period 2019-23 to 100,000 across 27 Russian regions including Moscow and Saint Petersburg. In 2019 Ericsson was chosen by Tele2 to roll out 50,000 BTS in these regions – alongside a similar contract issued to Finnish vendor Nokia covering 40 other regions – and the new agreement will see deployment of another 50,000 Ericsson 4G/3G/2G BTS with 5G support to enable Tele2 to increase data transfer rates and prepare for the launch of the 5G standard, the cellco said in a statement on its website. Tele2 has put into operation over 30,000 new Ericsson BTS since 2019. Overall, its 4G LTE services currently cover 97% of the population within its 68-region network, representing around 83% coverage of Russia’s population.
Tele2 has also reached an agreement to install over 2,000 BTS on the broadcasting masts and towers owned by Russian Television & Radio Broadcasting Network (RTRN) in 55 regions. As reported by TelecomDaily, around 500 Tele2 BTS will be installed at RTRN facilities in each year in 2021-24, with 534 of the total BTS in the project to be situated in locations with no existing mobile broadband coverage to support the digital divide elimination project Universal Communication Services 2.0 (UCS 2.0) being undertaken by Tele2 and its parent Rostelecom involving deployment of LTE network sections for unserved settlements with populations of 100 to 500 people, linked by fibre backbone extensions. Tele2 stated: ‘As a socially oriented company, we have historically built a network in the most remote corners of the country, often being the only available operator for local residents … our mission to bridge the digital divide is realised in two dimensions – the deployment of technical infrastructure and the provision of affordable services. Our project with RTRN and Rostelecom contributes to improving the quality of life in rural areas and creating equal digital opportunities.’
TeleGeography notes that Rostelecom’s existing partnership with RTRN helps support the government’s programme to provide fibre and wireless broadband connectivity to ‘socially significant objects’ (SSOs) including schools, medical buildings, state bodies, territorial election commissions, fire and police stations, facilities of the Russian Guard and other locations, alongside the new UCS 2.0 programme. Furthermore, in August 2019 Rostelecom was designated by government decree as the sole contractor to provide connectivity services to RTRN facilities for broadcast traffic and overhead transit alongside traffic transit services to social infrastructure facilities, with the telco aiming to connect a total of 4,998 RTRN facilities with fibre by end-2021, having connected 1,692 in 2019 and around a further 1,500 facilities in 2020.