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Russia on the Way to the New Generation of Mobile Communications

Russia will benefit by harmonising its Third Generation licensing and roll-out plans with Europe and other global markets, says mobile industry association The UMTS Forum. Russia's mobile operator community is ready to join the world in introduction of 3G mobile technologies, indicates the Russian 3G Association.

Speaking at a joint press conference held with the Russian 3G Association, UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim stressed that Russia can enjoy the same benefits already enjoyed by Europe that has effectively standardized on UMTS networks based on W-CDMA radio access technology. Timed introduction of 3G technologies in mobile networks will greatly support the development of the Russian new generation services market, added 3G Association Executive Director Andrey Skorodumov.

Titled "Strategy of third generation network development in Russia and worldwide", the joint press conference was held in Moscow with participation of the Chief of the Federal Agency of Communications and the top management of the Russian major mobile operators MegaFon, Mobile TeleSystems and VimpelCom.

"The Federal Agency of Communications actively supports the implementation of new, advanced technologies in Russian telecom and provides necessary conditions for the development of telecom infrastructure and its integration with international networks", said the Chief of the Federal Agency of Communication, Andrey Beskorovainiy.

"UMTS is the next logical step for GSM operators, who can enjoy the same economies of scale, ease of international roaming and access to a wide range of cost-effective terminals as they migrate smoothly to 3G", commented UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim. "Through timely licensing in globally harmonised frequency bands for IMT-2000, Russia can ensure that it strengthens its active participation in the GSM/UMTS world that numbers almost 1.4 billion subscribers."

3G Association Executive Director Andrey Skorodumov stressed that taking into account the world experience of UMTS networks implementation is important for the successful introduction of 3G networks in Russia: "Russia has a unique chance to consider in practice all aspects of the UMTS network introductions experience of other countries, and use this to the benefit of all market participants".

The Russian mobile operators' representatives discussed their preparations for the introduction of new-generation mobile technologies. Yuriy Gromakov, Vice-president of Mobile TeleSystems company, discussed the perspective of technology implementations in the mobile network of his company. Deputy General Director of MegaFon, Igor Nikodimov, and Nataliya Rudenko, Director of planning and new technologies at VimpelCom, focused on the challenges of Russia's new-generation and content providing services market development.

The cost effective 3G choice
UMTS provides a smooth evolutionary path to 3G for GSM operators wishing to add capacity and support for new high-speed data services in new spectrum allocated for IMT-2000. GSM operators can re-use significant parts of their investment in 2G/GSM, from core network elements to customer management and billing systems. Customers can access voice and data services via dual-mode GSM/W-CDMA terminals with seamless 2G/3G handover. More than 70 3G/UMTS networks based on W-CDMA technology have already been launched commercially. UMTS subscriber numbers now exceed 25 million out of a global total of more than 40 million 3G customers. More than 160 different W-CDMA terminal designs have already been announced or introduced by European, US and Asian vendors.

"Russia's mobile market is in a period of explosive growth, particularly in urban centres", added Bienaim. "With SIM penetration in Moscow already exceeding 100%, it's vital that Russian operators are given the opportunity to add extra network capacity at incremental cost to support more subscribers and offer new services via 3G."

Today Russia represents one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world - along with China, India and Brazil. In May 2005 the number of mobile subscribers in Russia exceeded 90 million (most of them are GSM subscribers), with a corresponding penetration rate of 64%. "These are all conditions that are favorable to the introduction of UMTS in Russia. Russian operators are completely ready to the introduction of 3G networks", concluded Andrey Skorodumov. With Russian mobile operators already giving their customers a first taste of high-speed mobile data services via EDGE, 3G licensing in Russia is anticipated by the end of 2005 or early in 2006.