Russia’s Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS), the country’s antitrust regulator, is investigating concerns that the country’s national 4G (LTE) network-sharing consortium is excluding smaller players. Russia’s RBC Daily reports that three smaller operators – Tele2 Russia, Smarts and TTK – have asked to join the consortium, but have had had most of their requests ignored. The alliance was forged in March this year between Russia’s three largest operators, MegaFon, MTS and VimpelCom, and national broadband operator, Rostelecom. According to the report, the FAS has requested that Rostelecom, which was responsible for the selection of partners, to provide information whether other operators had submitted their bids for participation in the consortium and what responses they had received. An official at the regulator noted that a refusal to admit other operators in the consortium is not a violation, but that the grounds for it should be carefully examined.
The network is being built by the former WiMAX operator, Yota, and aims to provide high-speed mobile broadband services across 180 Russian cities (with a total population of more than 70 million citizens) by 2014, avoiding the need for the participants to build-out their own networks. The four mobile operators have the option to buy equal stakes (reported to be 20 percent) in Yota after 2014.