MTS to roll out TD-LTE in Moscow next month
Migrating its WiMAX network to a far more extensive LTE system, seeking a headstart over its rivals
Published: 1 August, 2012
Following the recent auction of 4G spectrum, Russian operators are accelerating their LTE progress. One of the country's three major cellcos, MTS, will go live with LTE on September 1, replacing its existing WiMAX networks to get a headstart on rivals VimpelCom and MegaFon.
According to local news source Vedomosti, MTS will not only migrate its WiMAX network but significantly expand it, rolling out 2,000 base stations before the end of the year, compared to just 200 in use currently. The system will serve the greater Moscow area, where the current service has about 70,000 subscribers.
In advance of switching on the LTE network, MTS will start to sell devices from August 7, initially offering dongles and CPE, with handsets and tablets to come later. Pricing has not been revealed yet, but rival MegaFon offers an LTE-capable modem, the E392, for RUB2,990 ($92.90). MTS WiMAX customers who have purchased their modems since April will be entitled to a free exchange and one month's free data access (three months for those who commit to a one-year contract).
In February, MTS was awarded Moscow's first LTE licence by the regulator Roskomnadzor, allowing it to migrate from WiMAX to TD-LTE in the 2.5GHz band. This licence requires it to launch LTE services before the end of 2013 and expires at the end of 2016. The regulator had previously taken back these frequencies (which were previously owned by WiMAX operator Comstar UTS, then acquired by MTS), but has now allocated them back to the cellco, perhaps in the face of claims for compensation from MTS's owner, the Sistema conglomerate.