Russia to decide on mobile data next year

MOSCOW Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:36am EST

MOSCOW Dec 19 (Reuters) - Russia is set to decide on whether to allow mobile operators to recycle their old frequencies to offer faster Internet on-the-go in the third quarter of 2013, Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov said on Wednesday.

A decision to go ahead would benefit Sweden's Tele2 AB - Russia's only foreign mobile operator and its fourth-largest in terms of subscribers - which had been seeking to retune its old spectrum to the new usage, known in the Russian debate as technology neutrality.

Russia has said it wants more tests to show that technology neutrality would not hurt service quality.

"We suggest setting June 1 as a deadline for summing up results of studies. Discussions of these results are due in the third quarter," the minister said.

Although Tele2 said that if Russia did not agree to technology neutrality, the firm could buy space on another operator's network or extend current cooperation with its 2G roaming partners to include data services, speculation has circulated that it may seek a merger with one of bigger rivals or state-controlled Rostelecom.

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