Russian cellular companies will set up single 5G operator

MTS, Megafon, Beeline and Tele2 have agreed to create a single infrastructure operator for the development of 5G technology, the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media said.

According to the ministry source, a discussion of the 5G concept is underway, with the “big four” deciding in what format they will legally formalize their partnership. If they develop 5G in Russia’s million-plus cities separately, they will spend about RUR 163 bln ($2.4 bln) until 2024. In partnership, they will invest about RUR 72 bln ($1 bln) in 5G over the same period.

Journalists believe this situation repeats the LTE launch story, where mobile operators also planned to establish a single operator of the new generation. They chose Scartel, which owned the Yota brand at that time. Then, for about a year or even two, it was the single operator, but in reality, the LTE network did not grow until frequency bands were allocated to all players in the telecom market; the single operator was eventually bought up by Megafon for $ 1.2 bln.

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