According to local press reports, Russian wireless giant Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is set to launch its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network on 1 September, replacing its existing WiMAX service in the process. In an unconfirmed report that cited company representative Dmitry Solodovnikov, Vedomosti suggested that the in-deployment LTE network will have a far larger scope than its WiMAX predecessor, with some 2,000 base transceiver stations (BTS) expected to be constructed by end-2012, compared to just 200 WiMAX BTS currently in operation, serving around 70,000 wireless broadband subscribers in and around Moscow. LTE modem sales will commence on 7 August, although no price has been disclosed thus far; rival MegaFon’s LTE-suitable E392 modem is priced at RUB2,990 (USD92.90). Any WiMAX customers who have purchased a modem since April 2012 will be eligible to exchange them for free and obtain one month’s free data access, while longer-term users who make the switch will be granted three months’ complimentary LTE access as an incentive.
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in February 2012 MTS was awarded Moscow’s first LTE licence by the Federal Supervision Agency for IT, Communications & Media (Roskomnadzor). The concession, which will allow it to provide 4G wireless services in the 2595MHz-2620MHz frequency band, will reportedly support the Time Division (TD)-LTE standard. Under the terms of its licence, MTS is required to launch its LTE network on or before 29 December 2013; the concession is valid until 29 December 2016. Slightly confusingly, the frequencies which MTS was awarded for LTE use were the same ones that Roskomnadzor ostensibly seized from the company’s former WiMAX subsidiary Comstar UTS in order to pave the way for the introduction of LTE in the capital. Previously, Sistema, the Russian conglomerate that owns MTS, demanded compensation to the tune of RUB1.5 billion from the winners of the tender, effectively demanding recompense from itself.