Russia’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), said yesterday that it will invest RUB73 billion (USD2.97 billion) in 3G networks by 2020. Out of the total, over half – RUB38 billion (USD1.55 billion) – will be invested by 2011. The company also announced that Krasnoyarsk and Norilsk (in Krasnoyarsk Krai region) will be the first cities beyond the Urals to be covered by its W-CDMA rollout, with commercial services due to be launched in the region before Moscow, as there are hold-ups with the release of UMTS frequencies in the capital. In the past week MTS made test 3G calls in Krasnoyarsk. MTS has separately confirmed that it plans to launch 3G networks in Novosibirsk, St Petersburg and Moscow by the end of 2008. The operator, majority-owned by Russian financial/industrial holding company AFK Sistema, is one of three 3G licensees in the country. Rival Vimpelcom earlier revealed that it planned to invest USD300-USD350 million in UMTS development in 2007-08, whilst MegaFon has earmarked around USD1 billion over three years for its third-generation rollout.
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