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Russia's Yota seeks partners with spectrum

19 ноября 2010

Russian alternative mobile broadband provider Yota has built up a strong base of customers on its WiMAX network and recently made the move to LTE. Now the company is looking overseas for growth and as such needs partners... preferably that own their own spectrum.

“Let's work together,” proclaimed Yota's director of business development Yegor Ivanov at Mobile Asia Congress on Thursday. “The greenfield Yota way is the future and we would like you to join us.”

The company is looking for partners with spectrum suitable for the rollout of LTE services, Ivanov said. “We keep aggressively seeking LTE spectrum for our international expansion.”

In addition to its Russian operations, Yota already offers services in Nicaragua, where low Internet penetration means good potential for growth. It also plans to launch in Peru and Belarus, and has other markets in its sights. “Asia is a big target area for us,” said Ivanov.

However, “we are definitely not looking at developed markets,” he added. He conceded that there could be demand for Yota's brand of contract-free mobile broadband services in the major European markets, for example, but said that governments in developed markets constitute a barrier. “It is not easy to come there for a Russian company,” Ivanov said.

Yota began life as a mobile WiMAX operator, launching in its home market in June 2009. “More than 700,000 people in Russia are now Yota customers,” Ivanov said. He believes that customers are attracted to Yota because it offers an alternative to traditional mobile broadband Internet models.

Mobile broadband services are “still stuck in the world of the ISP,” in that a customer gets a free dongle from their operator in return for signing up to a 12-month contract offering unlimited usage. But, according to Ivanov, the small print shows that operators only guarantee a fraction of their headline speeds and implement stringent data cap policies, reducing speeds even further when customers exceed their limit.

“People, wake up! It is slower than dial-up speed,” he said.

Yota's ethos is to offer “broadband [that is] as fast and reliable as you get at home,” he said. The company does not lock customers into contracts. Instead they buy an unsubsidised device and pay in advance for each month's usage.

The need for this type of service plan is reflected in usage, Ivanov said. The average Yota customer uses more than 13 Gigabytes of data per month, which is 20% more than traditional fixed-line usage. One customer used 2 Terabytes of data in a single month. “Don't ask me what he was doing!” Ivanov said.

Yota's move from mobile WiMAX to LTE took its first major step forward when the company inaugurated a trial network in the Russian city of Kazan in August.

The reason for the move was simple, according to Ivanov. Yota is a small Russian company and needs the scale benefits that LTE can provide. “The technology with the largest device ecosystem will win,” he said.


Источник: Total Telecom

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