Russia WiMAX operator Yota barred from LTE, says regulator

Reports from within Russia indicate that Yota, a Russian WiMAX operator, may not be able to offer LTE services under its existing licence.

Despite many reports that Yota was planning to provide LTE coverage to 15 Russian cities by the end of 2011, the Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor is believed to have said that Yota's licence was issued for the provision of WiMAX services only. However, Igor Torgov, MD of Scartel--and owner of Yota--told a local news agency that the licence did not include an exact definition of the permitted technology.

Yota had stated that it intended to spend US$100 million this year on the rollout of LTE networks in five Russian cities, with total investment expected to reach USD$2 billion. The company is also thought to have ordered 1,000 LTE base stations from unnamed suppliers.

As speculation increases over the long-term future of WiMAX, the market research firm Wiseharbor has stated that it believes the technology will become increasingly marginalised by LTE over the coming years. The company maintains that, while WiMAX has made significant commercial progress by occupying the cheaper unpaired spectrum, TD-LTE will eclipse WiMAX by prevailing in the use of unpaired spectrum as well as the paired spectrum already employed commercially by LTE.

However, long-standing supporter of WiMAX, Intel, has stated that LTE will not become mature enough for commercial operations until 2015 at the earliest, and WiMAX will witness continued good prospects in the global market.

Intel's architecture group VP and WiMAX program office general manager, Sriram Viswanathan, did hedge this viewpoint by indicating an interest in developing handset chipsets for 3G and LTE, as well as WiMAX. He also reaffirmed the commitment made in 2008 with the Taiwanese government to jointly boost their WiMAX system integration joint venture.

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