Bakcell, Azerbaijan’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, has announced the commercial launch of its third-generation network, after receiving a licence from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to provide 3G services at the start of the month. The country’s president, Ilham Aliyev, and Minister of Communications and Information Technologies Ali Abbassov, helped to switch on the cellco’s HSPA+ network at the Bakutel exhibition. Bakcell’s 3G services, which are offered under the brand ‘sur@’, are currently available in 62 cities, but will be extended to rural parts of the country during 2012. The mobile broadband service supports maximum download speeds of up to 14.4Mbps in all coverage cities, while speeds of up to 28Mbps are available in the capital Baku. In the future, Bakcell plans to launch Dual Carrier HSPA+ (DC-HSPA+) services over the network, enabling downlink speeds of up to 42Mbps. The company has become the third operator in Azerbaijan to offer 3G services; Azerfon commercially launched its network in December 2009, while TeliaSonera subsidiary Azercell switched on its network last week.
In a separate story, Azercell has applied to the MCIT for a licence to provide wireless services based on 4G technology, Azerbaijan Business Center cites TeliaSonera’s representative Halim Ates as saying. As reported by CommsUpdate, Bakcell submitted an application for a 4G concession earlier this week. Alongside the award of 3G licences to the two operators earlier this month, the MCIT recommended that all three of the country’s mobile operators submit proposals for the introduction of 4G services.