First LTE network launched in Russia
Yota has launched the first LTE network in Russia in Novosibirsk based on the Megafon infrastructure. CNews was lucky to be the first to test it. The data transfer rate is set artificially low at 20 Mbps to avoid congestion.
The Scartel company (branded Yota) has announced the launch of an LTE network in Novosibirsk, which is the first network to use the fourth generation mobile technology (4G) in Russia. The network is currently on its testing stage, its commercial launch will be on January 15th, 2012.
The download speed tested by a CNews correspondent with Speadtest is 12-23 Mbps; uploading is 6-8.5 Mbps (Speadtest data). In Yota’s WiMAX network the speed reaches 10 Mbps. Theoretically the LTE network may develop speeds of up to 100 Mbps, but the company has set a maximum speed of around 20 Mbps. Skartel Director General Denis Sverdlov said this is done to avoid network congestion.
The network comprises 63 base stations and their number will increase to 150 by March. Huawei is the hardware vendor and Scartel uses the Megafon infrastructure as a result of a recently reached agreement on its joint use.
Scartel’s own transport network in Novosibirsk provides for a speed of up to 200 Mbps for one station, but in the future the base stations will be connected to the Megafon network, Sverdlov said. The agreement is an opportunity for Megafon to become a virtual operator for Yota’s LTE-network. Megafon didn’t elaborate on whether it is going to jump at this opportunity.
So far the subscriber’s unit is the Yota USB-modem. It has been developed by Scartel and produced by the Chinese Quanta Computers. The modem costs 3 thousand rubles (around $100). It is defined as an Ethernet-device, which allows it to run without additional drivers on various operating systems (Windows, OS X, Linux).
Scartel is currently developing a new generation of modems that will work not only in LTE, but also in GSM and 3G networks, Sverdlov said. Along with them the company will offer subscribers Wi-Fi routers. A Yota SIM-card is embedded into the modem, which will allow using the device in LTE-networks only.
Just as with the WiMAX network there’ll be unlimited tariffs in the LTE network, and the subscription fee will depend on the maximum speed. Prices will be not higher than in the WiMAX network (from 300 to 1,200 rubles per month or around $10-$40). Yota’s existing WiMAX networks in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities will be transferred to LTE by September next year. Subscribers will get special offers to change the existing devices.
Yota could have launched the first LTE network in Kazan. The network was built in autumn of 2010, but back then Roskomnadzor (Federal Telecom Supervisor) did not allow the company to use its WiMAX frequencies for LTE. Scartel got a relevant permission a year later but then there was another problem in Kazan: its existing frequencies of the 2.5 GHz interfered with MMDS frequencies of the local TV operator, TBT.
Scartel negotiated the issue with the TBT management, but the latter was recently acquired by MTS. As JSFC Sistema President and main shareholder Mikhail Shamolinexplained, MTS may give the frequencies in Kazan if it gets the right to launch the LTE network on its behalf.