Russian telecoms giant Rostelecom has revealed that it plans to launch its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the North Caucasus federal district in 2013, PrimeTass news agency reports. Last month Rostelecom was awarded frequencies in the 791MHz-798.5MHz and 832MHz-839.5MHz spectrum bands in Roskomnadzor’s long-delayed auction; Russia’s self-styled ‘Big Three’ mobile operators Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), MegaFon and Vimpelcom also scooped frequencies in adjacent bands. Each recipient is obliged to commence offering commercial LTE services no later than 1 January 2012, and offer 4G technology in all towns with at least 50,000 residents by 2019.
In other news, RBCnews.com reports that Rostelecom intends to complete the full rebranding of its assorted mobile businesses in 22 regions across Russia by 17 September 2012. From that date prominent regional operators such as Uralsvyazinform and Sibirtelecom and a number of smaller companies including Eniseytelecom, which has a presence in five regions, Nizhny Novgorod Cellular Communication (NCC, seven regions) and Baykal Westcom (two regions) will all offer mobile services under the central Rostelecom brand. The announcement seemingly marks the culmination of state-owned telecoms holding company Svyazinvest’s so-called ‘mega-regional’ merger, which saw the government-backed entity combine the respective assets of Center Telecom, North-West Telecom, VolgaTelecom, South Telecom, Uralsvyazinform, Sibirtelecom and Far East Telecom in April 2011, under the existing Rostelecom brand name. The rebranding began in earnest in December 2011. As at 30 June 2012 Rostelecom claimed a consolidated subscriber base of 12.94 million, making it Russia’s fifth largest mobile operator by users.