MegaFon, Beeline, Rostelecom sign agreement on 5G joint venture

7 Jun 2021

Russian operators MegaFon, VimpelCom (Beeline) and Rostelecom have signed an agreement to form a joint venture (JV) aimed at the collaborative development of radio frequencies for establishing and operating 5G mobile networks. Under the agreement the trio will take equal ownership stakes in New Digital Solutions (a JV established by MegaFon and Rostelecom in January 2019), which will pursue testing for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), researching possibilities of using certain spectrum bands for the construction of 5G networks, and implementing necessary organisational and technical measures to release the spectrum from existing usages, with chief focus on the ranges 694MHz-790MHz, 3.4GHz-3.8GHz, 4.4GHz-4.99GHz and 24.25GHz-29.5GHz, although not limited to these resources. The agreement had received prior consent from Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) on the basis that it included conditions for non-discriminatory access to radio frequencies for all participants in the mobile communications market.

Rostelecom president Mikhail Oseevsky declared: ‘For more than two years we have been moving towards expanding the membership of the joint venture, and I congratulate all of us on the signing of the main legally binding document. The lack of frequencies suitable for creating 5G networks in Russia is one of the most significant constraints. The joint venture has a very large amount of work ahead of releasing radio frequency resources, taking into account the whole range of issues – regulatory, organisational, technical, economic. The result of the work of the [JV] should be an objective full-fledged picture of the frequency resource available for the construction of fifth-generation networks in Russia. These data will allow making more informed decisions both for the state at all levels of regulation and for mobile operators to build an effective business based on new generation networks.’

MegaFon’s general director Gevork Vermishyan added: ‘We are pleased to welcome a new member of the New Digital Solutions joint venture … this joint experience will help move on to commercial launches of fifth-generation networks in the most efficient frequency bands with an optimal implementation cost.’

VimpelCom president Rashid Ismailov noted: ‘The introduction of 5G in Russia has begun to lag behind the global trend, we are facing serious challenges, it is necessary to solve the problem of a shortage of frequencies, regulatory, organisational and technical issues of introducing new technology. Even large operators cannot solve these problems alone.’