After announcing its intention to abandon WiMAX for Long Term Evolution (LTE) in May, Russia-based WiMAX operator Yota has belatedly confirmed details of its switch to LTE, revealing that it will roll out LTE in 15 new markets during 2011, whilst building out a parallel LTE infrastructure in the company’s five existing markets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Ufa, Sochi and Krasnodar. In an interview with Light Reading, Yota’s VP of business development Yegor Ivanov commented: ‘As we start selling LTE service, we will stop selling WiMAX. We believe we can switch off WiMAX within three years. Existing WiMAX customers will be migrated to LTE as they upgrade [their Customer-Premises Equipment (CPE)]’. Yota believes its entire WiMAX subscriber base will have received a CPE upgrade by 2013.
Ivanov confirmed that Yota’s plans are based around the deployment of Frequency-Division Duplexing (FDD) LTE technology, rather than the Time-Division Duplexing (TDD) version of the technology that is widely regarded as the alternative option for operators with WiMAX-suitable spectrum. Indeed, Yota has already deployed FDD LTE technology in the Russian city of Kazan, and in Belarus, using base station technology from Huawei Technologies. Although Yota’s shift to FDD LTE has yet to be formally approved by the Russian authorities, Ivanov confirmed that it has been approved in principle.
Internationally, Yota has a WiMAX network up and running in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, with further deployments ongoing in Peru and Belarus. 6,000 of Yota’s 700,000 subscribers are located in Nicaragua, and Ivanov confirmed that the company will continue to build new networks in developing markets where there are low levels of broadband penetration and scant competition. Ivanov claims that despite being in its operational infancy, Yota Nicaragua has already secured a 10% market share. To this end, Ivanov said that discussions are ongoing with financial institutions in two countries – one in Africa and the other in Latin America – regarding further international WiMAX rollouts.