Belarus’ Minister of Communications and Informatisation Sergei Popkov has said that the country’s second and third largest mobile network operators (MNOs), Mobile Digital Communications (velcom) and Belarusian Telecommunications Network (BeST life:)), can launch 4G LTE services this month, joining leading player MTS Belarus, which kicked off its commercial offering in December 2015. MTS launched commercial services in the capital Minsk using the infrastructure of host operator Belarusian Cloud Technologies (beCloud) with peak speeds of 112Mbps. Local website Providers.by now quotes the head of the Ministry of Communications and Informatisation (Minsvyazi) as saying: ‘I think that in the month of May, mobile operators velcom and life :) will join in this project and will deliver 4G services’, going on to explain that Minsvyazi hopes competition will result in lower prices for end users, and expressing his hope that in the years 2017-2018 Belarus will also develop 4.5G (i.e. presumably LTE-A) technology.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, to date 4G take-up has been muted. In March this year beCloud, which owns a 15-year licence to operate 4G LTE infrastructure in the 1710MHz-1730MHz/1805MHz-1825MHz and 2530MHz-2565MHz/2650MHz-2685MHz bands, said that around 4,500 users in Minsk were using the new network, up from less than 3,000 at the start of the year. beCloud is tasked with deploying a common LTE network for use by all three domestic MNOs. beCloud says its 4G network has been boosted to a total of 150 base stations in high traffic areas of the capital, adding that by end-2016 it hopes to have extended coverage to the regional cities of Brest, Vitebsk, Gomel, Grodno and Mogilev. By the end of 2018 the infrastructure operator’s 4G network will cover all regional centres and other towns with a population of 50,000.