Russian telecom giants announce LTE partnership

A new shared LTE network will reportedly be constructed in Russia by a collaboration between two of the country’s major operators, VimpelCom and MTS.

Both operators are members of a pre-existing venture with Russian vendor Scartel – which also includes MegaFon and broadband provider Rostelecom – but this project is reportedly unrelated. With a joint investment of approximately RUB2 billion (US$62.4 million), the deployment takes after similar LTE-sharing arrangements in Scandinavia.

VimpelCom spokeswoman Anna Aibasheva said: “We believe that an infrastructure partnership is a reasonable approach which carries an evident bargain -- the network is being built faster, costs are being optimised substantially, while there is more money left to invest into the core product.”

The deal throws the future of the Scartel joint venture into uncertainty. Some of the partners, and in particular VimpelCom owner Alfa Group, have reportedly disagreed with Scartel’s valuation of the network, and this new agreement is yet another setback for the beleaguered joint venture.

The goal of the consortium is to allow the four operators to share infrastructure on one network - to be constructed by Scartel – which will cover 180 Russian cities by 2014. However, reports have indicated that the partners are unsatisfied with the amount that they are required to invest in the venture.


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