Russian operators Rostelecom and MegaFon are in talks with state-owned company Rostec to form a 5G consortium, which will aim to use domestic equipment and infrastructure to reduce the cost of network deployment, Kommersant reported.

A source told the publication negotiations between the operators are ongoing and a joint venture could be launched around March 2019. It is possible Rostec, which states on its website its purpose is to promote the development, production and export of high-tech industrial products, will be involved.

However, some officials have reservations about the move.  Kommersant quoted Alexander Gorbatko, deputy head of the Department of Information Technologies of Moscow, as saying that while “creating communication networks on the basis of a single infrastructure operator will allow all market players to reduce costs… the unified platform carries the risks of lack of competition and, as a result, high prices for residents and consumers, lack of operator flexibility and monotonous services”.

Last month at the GSMA Mobile 360 Series event in Moscow, Veon CSO Alexander Popovskiy identified a lack of spectrum as the main challenge facing Russia in terms of 5G,  while GSMA Intelligence predicted Russia’s 5G networks will cover 80 per cent of its population and support one in five of the country’s mobile connections by 2025.