The Russian mobile broadband service provider Yota is readying its first LTE modem for launch next month. The firm aims to follow this launch with mobile routers, embedded laptops and smartphones.
Formerly a backer of WiMAX, Yota recently secured a contract to construct an LTE network which will be shared by four of Russia’s biggest operators – MTS, Rostelecom, MegaFon and VimpelCom. By 2014, the network will provide mobile broadband services to over 70 million citizens across nearly 200 cities.
“The deal will see Yota become the 4G network provider for the Russian telecoms market. Businesses will avoid costly duplication of infrastructure investment and millions of Russian consumers will benefit from faster access to 4G services and lower prices”, reads a statement from the firm.
Each of the mobile operators will have the choice of buying an equal stake (20%, according to reports) in Yota after 2014. The majority of Russian cities already host LTE spectrum belonging to Yota, and so the contract is a boon for the company.
Along with a switch from WiMAX to LTE across its operations, Yota shifted its business strategy towards the end of 2010 with an emphasis on partnerships with other firms. The company’s director of business development Yegor Ivanov stated at the time: “We don’t want to have a telco legacy – ideally we want to partner with companies... a franchising model is what we want.” More recently, Yota CEO Dennis Sverdlov stated: “it’s better to open our network for service providers rather than try to make it work by ourselves.”
Sverdlov has detailed the reasoning behind the company’s switch from WiMAX to LTE, saying: “The only reason is the device ecosystem… the device ecosystem for LTE is going to be much wider than WiMAX... and that is better for our customers.”
He went on to add that Yota’s LTE customers would continue to enjoy unlimited data tariffs – even though its current WiMAX customers typically use vast amounts of data (an average of 13GB) every month. “We do very simple, unlimited tariffs, we never limit the speed, we never limit traffic, so all our customers get as much as they want. The only thing we do is… we can manage the traffic on the level of the base station, so we can really prioritise the traffic and based on that we can manage the different services", said Sverdlov.
A recent statement from Yota concerning its Russian contract has labelled “the ability to offer open infrastructure to competing service providers” as the firm’s “vision of the future of telecoms.”