The mobile sector in Russia has achieved extraordinary growth over the past three years - the number of mobile connections has more than quadrupled to 146 million - thanks to a government policy that has allowed market forces to thrive.
The Russian government recently announced that it will tender 3G licences in the 2GHz spectrum band early next year. A smooth licensing and rollout of 3G networks would enable Russians to use their handsets to access the Internet at high speeds, download video and audio clips and tap into a host of other mobile broadband services, as well as to connect desktops and laptops to the Internet using wireless broadband.
"Russia has already achieved more than 100% mobile penetration thanks to the huge popularity of wireless communications among Russians and the government's good work in fostering a market-driven mobile sector based on strong competition," declares Tom Phillips, Chief Government & Regulatory Affairs Officer at the GSMA. "A transparent 3G licensing process, with well-thought-out and clear rules for the bidders and based on thorough consultation with all stakeholders in the mobile sector, will give the industry the confidence to invest in new mobile broadband infrastructure that will help fuel social and economic development."
The GSM Association recently hosted a workshop in Moscow on 3G licensing in cooperation with the 3G Association of Russia and supported by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies of the Russian Federation.
Greeting the participants in the workshop, Boris Antonyuk, Deputy Minister of Information Technologies and Communications of the Russian Federation, said: "Implementation of new generation services helps to develop an infocommunication society in Russia." He also noted the wide-ranging activity of the GSM Association and the 3G Association in the field of networks implementation.
Alexander Krupnov, President of the 3G Association, emphasised the importance of interaction among international organisations. He said that the workshop demonstrated the importance of international experience in facilitating the development of new mobile services in Russia. He also pointed to the 3G Association's increasing role in the development of new mobile services in Russia and noted that the Association recently registered to change its name to Infocommunication Services Market Participants Union (Infocommunication Union).
Other participants at the workshop included senior executives from Russian mobile operators and representatives of research and scientific centres. Frontier Economics, the international consultancy, presented a study on spectrum auctions and tenders which stresses the importance of a dialogue between government and the private sector to ensure that the licensing process encourages investment in new mobile infrastructure.
* The Third Generation Telecommunication Networks Operators Association (3G Association) was founded in December 1999. Its objective is co-ordinating the activities of parties involved in establishing and developing perspective mobile networks such as 3G networks in Russia. It comprises five Russian cellular networks operators: Delta Telecom (SkyLink), MegaFon, Mobile TeleSystems, Moskovskaya Sotovaya Svyaz (SkyLink) and VimpelCom (Beeline).