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Russia’s state-controlled telecom operator, Rostelecom, is reportedly in talks with Sweden’s Tele2 regarding a merger of their Russian mobile businesses, reports Mobile Business Briefing.

According to sources at Russian newspaper Kommersant, Rostelecom may either create a joint venture with the Swedish partner or exchange its 100 percent stake in ZAO Sky Link, a mobile operator, for the the Swedish company’s stake in the mobile operator Tele2 Russia, the newspaper said.

Rostelecom was one of the four Russian operators that won LTE licences at auction last month; however Tele2 was unsuccessful – suggesting it could see a tie-up with Rostelecom as a way of keeping pace with its larger rivals in 4G. Last month’s auction was for 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequencies.

According to Wireless Intelligence, Tele2 had an estimated 21.6 million mobile connections in Q2 2012, behind larger rivals MTS (69.6 million), MegaFon (62.1 million) and Vimpelcom’s Beeline (55.7 million). Rostelecom is predominantly a long-distance fixed-line and broadband provider. It had an estimated 12.9 million mobile connections in Q2, plus a further 1.3 million via SkyLink.

The Russian Federation has 225.8 million mobile subscribers in total, or a 156% penetration rate (March 2012). The Russian government awarded four 2×7.5MHz blocks of frequencies in the 800 MHz band, covering the entire Russian territory. Paired blocks will be limited to one operator apiece. The tender awarded extra ‘points’ to bidders which agree to open their networks up to mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). The operators are obliged to start providing services no later than June 1, 2013.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Russia Awards LTE Licenses to Four Companies, Russian Billionaire Consolidates LTE Spectrum, Yota Switches to LTE – Overnight , Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, Yota Plans Overnight Swap from WiMAX to LTE, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction, Yota Dumps WiMAX

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