Tele2 Russia is poised to roll out 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology in the disputed Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, ComNews.ru reports. Base stations using the 1800MHz band could go live as early as 12 June, otherwise known as Russia Day, a national holiday that has been celebrated by the motherland every year since 1992. The network will initially go live in Simferopol and Sevastopol, the new report adds. Tele2 has been authorised ahead of the self-styled ‘Big Three’ mobile operators – MTS, MegaFon and Vimpelcom – on account of its impending merger with Rostelecom’s mobile assets (while it is noted that MTS Ukraine already operates in the region, as does Vimpelcom’s Ukraine division Kyivstar).
In related news, Russian news agency RIA Novosti has reported that plans for the deployment of a fibre-optic submarine link between the Russian mainland and Crimea are at an advanced stage and the cable could be in operation as early as this month. Last month Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called for state-owned operator Rostelecom to start offering services in the newly-annexed Crimean peninsula as soon as possible as a way of safeguarding communications channels.
In a referendum on 16 March 2014 the majority ethnic Russian electorate of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia, followed two days later by Russian and Crimean leaders signing a deal to incorporate Crimea into Russia. In the same week Ukraine’s interim government decided to leave the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) alliance.