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Russia's Sky Link plans GSM launch

18 декабря 2009

Russian mobile operator Sky Link, which has a million subscribers concentrated around Moscow, Thursday announced plans to build base stations for a GSM network across much of the rest of the country.

Sky Link won licenses in 2007 to provide GSM services in 45 of Russia's 83 regions, but the company hasn't yet started operations in these areas, risking the loss of those licenses after the country's communications watchdog claimed that it has failed to fulfil its conditions.

Sky Link Deputy Chief Executive Yuri Khromov Thursday declined to discuss why the company failed to launch a GSM network when it won the licenses two years ago. He also declined to say how much it is spending on the new equipment, which will be supplied by Huawei Technologies Co. and Alcatel-Lucent SA.

Sky Link is jointly-controlled by OAO AFK Sistema and holding company RTDC, but they are likely to hand over the company to the state in an asset swap that will combine Sky Link with the country's fixed-line network.

Until now Sky Link has operated on the CDMA, or Code Division Multiple Access standard, and it has focused on offering mobile Internet access.

The country's biggest mobile firms, which include Sistema-controlled OAO Mobile TeleSystems, all grew on the GSM standard, which gives users and operators a broader choice of equipment.

MTS, OAO Vimpel Communications and OAO Megafon, whose networks cover the whole country, have the only licenses to provide nationwide third-generation services.

Sky Link's Khromov said that the firm will now work with Huawei and Alcatel-Lucent to guarantee that the new GSM base stations can easily be upgraded to fourth generation technology, in preparation for the time when Russia's Communications Ministry gives approval for that standard.

Sky Link hopes the country's communications ministry will license the standard quickly, in contrast with the introduction of 3G which was licensed several years behind Europe.

In the hope of speeding the process this time, the company now wants to set up a trial fourth generation network, for which it has requested clearance from the Communications Ministry.

Источник: Total Telecom

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