Caroline Gabriel/Rethink Wireless
07 Mar 2011
Shared and wholesale networks will be a hallmark of 4G business models, as seen in the US with Clearwire and LightSquared.
Eventually, many countries will have only one or two networks serving multiple traditional and non-traditional wireless service providers. Russia has taken a big step in that direction with plans for 4G start-up operator Yota to support all four main cellcos with its LTE system.
Yota - the brand name for Scartel - started life as a flagship Wimax carrier but last year started to add LTE to its mix. It has a complex set of spectrum holdings, with byzantine rules attached to them, but is likely to end up with a mixture of TDD and FDD networks, with a significant amount of capacity in many markets and almost national coverage.
The main wireless carriers, which are still fighting over terms of the upcoming 2.6GHz auction, aim to tap into this goldmine.
Established cellcos MegaFon, MTS and VimpelCom, plus the growing mobile arm of wireline incumbent Rostelecom, will use Yota's network to provide new services to 180 cities (with a total population of more than 70 million citizens) by 2014.
This transforms the economics and timescales for bringing LTE to Russia - it had been feared that auction delays and rows over rules could put that back until late in the decade, while Yota as a standalone business lacked the scale to create a truly national service.