While here in the UK we are only just getting round to discussing the future of 4G and mobile broadband over in Russia things are moving an awful lot faster.
The leading 4G player Yota has announced today that it has agreed a deal with rival networks (Beeline, Megafon, MTS and Rostelekom) to roll out its 4G system across the country’s 180 cities with a total population of more than 70 million citizens by 2014.
The deal was witnessed by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at Yota’s Moscow office this morning.
It is big news because it means that Russia will effectively become the first country in the world to have blanket 4G coverage. So why is this exciting?
4G is the next generation network for mobile broadband. It comes in a couple of key flavours WiMAX and LTE (Long Term Evolution) which is what Yota is using. In theory it will mean that mobile devices from phones through to tablet PCs will be able to deliver data at speeds that even outpace your home broadband system. LTE, the main 4G format (ie the one that we’ll get in the UK) provides downlink peak rates of at least 100 Mbps, an uplink of at least 50 Mbps, though of course we all know that it will be a lot less than this in the real world. Nevertheless that is still much faster than the speeds we have with 3G.
It could also signal the deathknell for home wired broadband connections as your laptop/tablet PCs will have LTE compatibility built in or added via a dongle, so you won’t need a wired connection. As TechCrunch points out this morning too it could also be a massive boost to the country’s start up community.
Yota CEO Dennis Sverdlov comments, “This deal is an endorsement of our vision for the future of the telecoms industry. We firmly believe in the separation of network ownership and service provision and believe that this ground-breaking agreement will drive innovation and benefit Russian consumers. Even more importantly, we believe that Yota can help all operators across the world to take advantage of the massive opportunity that 4G brings.”
In the UK the auction for our 4G licences will run later this year. The bad news is that we won’t probably get 4G until at least 2014/15