Russian operator MTS and Netherlands-based VimpelCom have agreed to collaborate on their LTE deployments in the Russia and CIS region.
The agreement will see the two operators developing and deploying networks, with the aim of bringing LTE to 36 Russian states by 2017. These shared networks will be brought to 19 of the regions by MTS, and will be implemented by VimpelCom in the remaining 17 regions.
Various elements of network infrastructure - including base stations and transport networks – are covered by the agreement, which has been inked for the next 7 years.
“The partnership between MTS and VimpelCom sets a precedent for sharing active network infrastructure in Russia,” said Andrei Dubovskov, MTS President and CEO. “The agreement enables each operator to construct networks in regions where building networks independently had not been attractive from commercial standpoint and will ensure better coverage through greater choice of sites for base stations.”
“In practice, this means that within two years, the advantages of mobile broadband will be available to millions of our customers in 36 regions not only in big cities, but in smaller population centres as well. This ambitious project has been made possible by legislative initiatives put forward by the regulator.”
VimpelCom Russia CEO Mikhail Slobodin added: “Expanding the 4G/LTE networks in Russia will enable an improved experience for customers of both VimpelCom Russia and MTS and allow for continued mobile data growth. We expect the agreement to improve the availability and quality of the services to our customers.”
Operator partnerships are being pursued by the Russian government as a means of facilitating upgrades to the expansive networks required by the country’s massive geography.
The Deputy Minister of Communications and Mass Media for the Russian Federation Dmitry Alkhazov stated: “Improvement in the quality of the telecommunications services and their increased availability are among the key priorities for the Ministry of Communications. We have recently completed a major project aimed at enabling operators to share telecommunications infrastructure, including joint ownership of base stations. In current economic environment, our goal is to put in place regulations, which will allow operators to reduce costs and further enhance networks coverage in the regions contributing to elimination of the digital divide in Russia. The Ministry welcomes operators’ joint efforts to develop telecommunications infrastructure in Russia.”