Russian fixed-line player Rostelecom is reported to be planning a significant mobile push as part of a “strategic change of direction” for the state-owned company.
According to the Moscow Times, the company intends to form a separate management team for its mobile activities, “aggressively expand its share in the 3G market”, and construct a 4G (LTE) network using 450MHz spectrum it holds.
GSMA Intelligence figures puts Rostelecom fifth in the market with 13.82 million subscribers, behind MTS (71.82 million), MegaFon (62.72 million), VimpelCom (56.25 million) and Tele2 (23.24 million).
Rostelecom said that as of August 2013, it has built and tested 3G networks in 22 regions, working with partners Ericsson and Huawei. It has launched HSPA+ services in St Petersburg, to support its fixed, broadband and interactive TV services.
A recent analysis by agency Fitch Ratings suggest that Rostelecom will “face the biggest hurdles” of the operators rolling out LTE in Russia. It has been suggested that it will tie-up with Tele2, controlled by VTB Bank, although this will still mean heavy capital expenditure “to compete effectively with the other three operators”.
Apparently, the fixed player is looking at using 450MHz frequency licences currently used to provide wireless internet services (presumably using CDMA450) for an LTE rollout, although this has yet to be approved by the regulators.
So far, LTE has not been widely deployed in the 450MHz band, although there is significant interest in markets including Brazil.
The Moscow Times said that despite growth in its subscriber base, Rostelecom suffered a drop in mobile revenues during the first quarter of 2013.