Armenian fixed and mobile operator ArmenTel, which trades under the Beeline banner of Russian-backed owner VimpelCom, has announced the launch of what it is calling a pilot-commercial LTE network in the central districts of the capital, Yerevan. According to an ArmenTel press release, the firm has deployed 70 4G-equipped base transceiver stations (BTS) and will increase that number to 150 BTS before the end of 2016. The carrier says its new advanced network currently offers peak mobile internet speeds of up to 60Mbps. ‘Technology goes forward and Beeline, as the largest telecommunications operator in Armenia, is pleased to report that all its mobile internet services will now be even faster, easier and more convenient thanks to [the] 4G network standard,’ ArmenTel CEO Andrei Pyatakhin was quoted as saying. People wishing to sign up the service will need a smartphone tablet or USB modem that supports 4G LTE technology, with an installed USIM-card.
Beeline’s 4G network launch has been a long time coming. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in May 2015 Pyatakhin revealed Beeline’s plans to roll out a fourth-generation mobile network in the country before the end of the year, although at the time he declined to provide further details of the launch schedule. While the operator has made no secret of its desire to offer 4G services based on LTE, it is currently losing ground to rival VivaCell-MTS, whose own 4G network has been live since December 2011. In March 2010 ArmenTel’s parent VimpelCom confirmed it was planning to roll out LTE in Armenia, following successful trials over a test network in Kazakhstan. At the time, the firm’s managing director Igor Klimko said: ‘It is very important to note that the decision on frequency harmonisation, in which the LTE net construction will be permitted in Armenia, will also have an impact on our plans. We think that frequencies within 700MHz-800MHz harmonisation will be optimal.’