Russian telecoms in next-generation network study

* MTS, Vimpelcom, MegaFon to work with Rostelecom

* To study scope for conversion of spectrum held by the army

* Also to work on guarantees for investors, auction rules

* Investment estimated at tens of billions of roubles

MOSCOW, Dec 28 (BestGrowthStock) – Russia’s three biggest mobile
operators are set to take part in a study with state-owned
Rostelecom (RTKM.MM: ) into next-generation mobile networks, in a
move that should ease their concerns about future licence
allocations.

Russia’s State Commission for Radio Frequencies said on
Tuesday that Vimpelcom (VIP.N: ), MTS (MBT.N: ), MegaFon and
Rostelecom will investigate the possible future conversion of
spectrum currently held by the army for 4G networks.

MTS, Vimpelcom and MegaFon had earlier asked the government
to create an open process for the allocation of licences after
media reports that the Defence Ministry had asked to award
licences to its affiliate, little known company Osnova Telecom,
without competition.

A transition to the next-level technology, known as LTE
(Long-Term Evolution), is impossible in Russia without
liberalisation of the frequencies.

The four telecom companies have until July 2011 to present
the findings of their study into spectrum conversion, which they
will be funding themselves, and its commercial use.

The commission said the group should also work out proposals
regarding guarantees for companies investing in the conversion
as well as rules for future auctions.

Communications Minister Igor Shchyogolev said on Tuesday it
would cost the telecom operators tens of billions of roubles to
finance the clearance of the frequencies and replacement of
Defence Ministry’s equipment.

The companies will study the scope for the launch of LTE
networks in the 800-, 900-, 1800-, 2100- and 2500-megahertz
frequencies bands.
($1=30.44 Rouble)
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova and Anastasia Teterevleva;
Editing by Erica Billingham)

Russian telecoms in next-generation network study