Mobile operator Tele2 Russia is preparing to launch a pilot LTE network on the 450 MHz band in the Tver region on 27 May. The 450 MHz band is currently being used for CDMA-based services from mobile operator Sky Link, a subsidiary of Tele2 Russia.
Svetlana Skvortsova, Tele2’s director of strategic planning, announced that by the end of June Tele2 will launch LTE 450 networks in another five regions – Moscow (metropolitan), Moscow region, St. Petersburg, Leningrad and Novgorod. LTE 450 base station is able to cover an area having a diametre of up to 20 kilometres.
The operator plans to provide customers with end-user devices supporting the standard. China’s ZTE is understood to be providing technology including user terminal equipment for the initial LTE 450 pilot, whilst another Chinese vendor, Huawei, is being lined up as an additional partner for further LTE 450 rollouts.
Skvortsova said that subscribers will be able to purchase LTE 450 band supporting 4G devices as well as other bands including 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2.6GHz ‘which is unique to the Russian market.’ She added that the 450MHz LTE deployments are aimed at covering areas where operators would otherwise consider high speed broadband network rollouts to be economically unfeasible.
The 450MHz frequencies were earlier held by CDMA 450 provider SkyLink, a subsidiary of Rostelecom, which tested LTE 450 technology in late-2013. In August 2014 all mobile (2G/3G/4G) spectrum licences allocated to Rostelecom were transferred to the newly restructured Tele2 Russia, which is 45%-owned by state-controlled Rostelecom, whilst government-backed bank VTB Group is the next largest shareholder with 27.5%.