Russia’s largest operator MTS has launched the country’s first TD-LTE network with Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) and aims to cover 96 percent of the Moscow territory by the end of 2012.

The mobile broadband network is capable of speeds of up to 100Mb/s in Moscow and 40 population centres in the region. MTS intends to double the number of towns able to access the network by the end of the year.

NSN has provided its Single Radio Access Network using energy-efficient Flexi Multiradio Base Stations as well as its Liquid Core-based Evolved Packet Core platform. The company is also providing its NetAct network management system and end-to-end security.

“Our LTE network's high data throughput and superior reliability enable our customers to benefit from high quality multimedia applications with faster network access,” said head of the Moscow region for MTS, Konstantin Markov.

MTS secured the TD-LTE spectrum in the 2595-2620MHz band in February but is also believed to be close to a deal with Yota, the JV between MTS, MegaFon, VimpelCom, national broadband operator Rostelecom and former WiMAX operator Yota to build a shared FDD-LTE network covering 180 Russian cities by 2014.

The idea was for the operators to avoid the expense of building their own LTE networks but the project has run into problems with some of the operators reportedly looking to launch LTE outside of this arrangement.

MegaFon signed a deal in February to use Yota’s LTE spectrum, with the company launching LTE networks in Moscow, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk and Sochi, with at least four more cities planned by the end of the year.

MTS, MegaFon, VimpleCom and Rostelecom were also awarded licences suitable for LTE by the Russian regulator in July. The terms of the licences stipulate that the LTE services must be launched 1 June 2013 and operators must invest at least RUB15 billion (US$457 million) a year to meet coverage requirements. Nationwide coverage is planned for the end of 2019.