MTS, VimpelCom to collaborate on LTE in Russia

Russian telco Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and Dutch-based operator group VimpelCom have announced a partnership to develop and share LTE networks in Russia and the CIS region. The agreement involves rolling out LTE in 36 Russian regions over the next two years.

MTS will carry out the implementation of shared mobile data networks in 19 regions, VimpelCom in 17. The planned networks, as well as base stations, sites, transport networks and other infrastructure will be shared by the two operators for a period of seven years.

“The partnership between MTS and VimpelCom sets a precedent for sharing active network infrastructure in Russia,” Andrei Dubovskov, MTS President and CEO said. “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 centers as well. This ambitious project has been made possible by legislative initiatives put forward by the regulator.”

Mikhail Slobodin, CEO of VimpelCom Russia, said: “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.”

The Russian government has been campaigning for operator partnerships so that the vast country’s telecoms networks could be more easily upgraded. Dmitry Alkhazov, Deputy Minister of Communications and Mass Media for the Russian Federation, said: “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”

VimpelCom said it expects more than half of Russian data service users to have migrated onto 4G by 2019, and claimed the partnership will give the migration a boost, and create a modern telecoms infrastructure for the country.

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