Telekom Austria Group’s Belarusian cellular subsidiary Mobile Digital Communications (MDC, or velcom as it is more commonly known) is reportedly ready to launch its own 4G LTE network and is seeking the requisite permissions to do so. Providers.by cites velcom’s Deputy General Director for Marketing, Sales and Customer Service, Robert Dashyan, as saying that the company is fully prepared to unveil its own 4G service, having readied its 2,500-strong network of base stations to do so. ‘We just need to get a licence,’ he said, noting that under local rules the mobile operator cannot arbitrarily reallocate its existing frequencies in order to use a new technology such as LTE. Nevertheless, Dashyan confirmed that a launch could theoretically take place ‘in a matter of days’, adding that velcom needs only to ‘download the software for the equipment’ as its commitment to adopting a technological neutral approach on its network means it can activate 2G, 3G or even 4G on any of its existing frequencies.
Interestingly, velcom is not planning to connect to the 4G network being deployed by the country’s national infrastructure access provider Belarusian Cloud Technologies (beCloud). In September 2013 beCloud was granted frequencies to construct what was planned to be the country’s sole 4G LTE wireless network when ICT Minister Nikolay Panteley awarded it LTE-capable spectrum with the aim of constructing a single nationwide network which would then be offered on a wholesale basis to other Belarus operators in order to save infrastructure costs. MTS Belarus went live over beCloud’s systems in December 2015 and was joined by rival Belarusian Telecommunications Network (BeST), which provides services under the brand name life:), in August this year. BeST and velcom were reportedly given clearance to launch in May 2016, but the latter has apparently adopted a different route to market than its rivals.