Azerbaijani mobile operator Bakcell has announced the commercial launch of its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, limited initially to locations within the capital, Baku. Available since 5 May under the banner ‘4th Sur@’, subscribers within the coverage area will be able to access speeds up to 150Mbps with promotions such as 3GB of data for AZN10 (USD9.5) per month on a smartphone; for laptop users, 45GB of data at a cost of AZN60 for three months (offered with a free LTE dongle for a limited period); or tablet users can purchase 10GB data (with a free 4G SIM card included), for AZN15 per month. Bakcell CEO Richard Shearer commented on the cellco’s future 4G coverage strategy: ‘It is in our plans to expand the network rapidly, so that it [can] cover all areas where there is strong demand and enough 4G enabled devices.’
Bakcell claims that more than 4,000 subscribers have already been using its LTE network during the ‘last two to three months’. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the operator soft-launched 4G services in December 2013 following a network upgrade to Multiprotocol Label Switching – Transport Profile (MPLS-TP) technology using Huawei’s OSN series equipment. It did, however, miss its target launch deadline of 1Q14, informing TeleGeography in February 2015 that at that time it was still testing the network.