T2 RTC Holding, the joint venture between Tele2 Russia and Rostelecom which uses the Tele2 Russia brand name, has launched its inaugural 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the 1,800MHz band in Tula, ComNews reports. The operator already provides LTE coverage in several cities in the region, including Shchekin, Novomoskovsk, Don, North Zadonsk, Sokolniki, Aleksin and a number of settlements of the Leninsky district. According to the cellco’s press release, two tariff plans are available allowing them to download a maximum 500MB of data in a given 24-hour period for RUB8 (USD0.12), or 1GB of data for RUB15. If the user exceeds their cap, their connection is limited to 128kbps. The Tula 4G rollout cost in the region of USD1 million.
In a related development, Tele2 Russia has confirmed the launch of commercial 3G services in the Tambov region – the fourth area to receive UMTS services since it started switching services on earlier this year. Its 3G signal is already live in Novosibirsk, Chelyabinsk and St Petersburg (see below), while it also provides 3G coverage in the territory of Tambov, Michurinsk, Kirsanov, Kotovsk and several settlements of Tambov region. In the coming months, the operator plans to increase the number of active 3G base stations by 30% and improve the capacity of the transport network to expand coverage.
Finally, Tele2 Russia has also summed up its first month of 3G operations in St Petersburg, reporting a 70% increase in mobile internet traffic over the period and a more than doubling of 3G-traffic. Smartphones accounted for the single largest volume of data traffic in the first month, with the carrier noting that 38% of all devices registered on its network in St Petersburg support 3G – mainly using the Android O/S, with others using iOS and Symbian platforms. Tele2 Russia also said that it experienced a ten-fold increase in the sales of bundled tariff plans.