Russia’s MTS and VEON deploy new LTE strands and prepare for 5G

Two of the three major Russian MNOs are pushing their LTE networks into new waters, MTS preparing to kick off a €400m network upgrade including NB-IoT and 5G readiness; and VEON (formerly VimpelCom) trialling LTE-LAA.

MTS is working with Ericsson, its incumbent vendor, on the upgrade, which will support both the new LTE M2M standards, LTE-M and NB-IoT, and will also enhance its 2G, 3G and LTE networks in the Volga, Northwestern, Siberian, Ural and Southern federal districts. The project will launch by the end of the year and MTS plans to demonstrate 5G at the Russian soccer World Cup in 2018.

CTO Andrey Ushatsky said: “In April 2017, in Moscow our companies demonstrated 5G technology with peak data rates up to 25Gbps. Now we have reached an agreement with Ericsson, which will supply MTS new equipment enabling our network to deploy first solutions based on 5G technologies starting 2020.”

Earlier this year, MTS, Ericsson and Qualcomm ran a trial of LTE-LAA, and now Veon is following suit, though its network partner is Huawei. The telco aggregated one 10 MHz channel at 2.6 GHz with two 20 MHz carriers in unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum, enabling speeds of 480Mbps on a Qualcomm-powered test device. The trial ran on Huawei’s LampSite small cell platform.

Martin Skop, EVP of infrastructure development at VEON, said: “LAA is yet another step in fulfilling our 5G evolutionary strategy which relies on a smart gradual deployment of selective 5G and pre-5G technologies; avoiding valueless races of peak speeds and focusing instead on technologies that bring real value to our customers’ digital experience and our network performance.”

He added: “LAA managed integration of licensed and unlicensed spectrum will be fundamental in our goal towards a multi-purpose fully converged network. We are delighted with the trial results in collaboration with Huawei and Qualcomm who are two of our key 5G strategic partners.”