A recent GSMA study said the Russian market will have 48 million 5G subscribers by that time

Russian 5G networks will provide coverage to over 80% of the country’s population by 2025, according to a new study by the GSMA.

Russian mobile operators are expected to launch commercial 5G networks in 2020 and the technology is expected to reach 48 million subscribers by 2025, establishing Russia as the leading 5G market in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Other countries in the region expected to launch 5G services by 2025 include Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia and Uzbekistan, according to the GSMA.

“Our new study reveals how Russia will lead the CIS region into the 5G era over the coming years, as operators invest in rapidly building out 5G coverage across the country’s population, following the launch of the region’s first 5G networks in 2020,” said Mats Granryd, director general of the GSMA. “These new networks have the potential to create digital economies and drive the transformation of industries, but will require a supportive regulatory framework focused on encouraging investment and innovation, for example, by ensuring the timely availability of harmonized spectrum to 5G operators at a suitable price.”

The industry association highlighted that there is still a lot of room for 4G to grow in these markets, as the region enters the 5G era.

4G accounted for 16% of total connections in the CIS at the end of 2017, largely driven by Russia, which was one of the first countries in the region to launch 4G in 2012. All three main Russian operators have since launched LTE-Advanced networks. 4G is expected to account for more than two-thirds of the region’s total connections with 5G accounting for 12% by 2025.

The study said that the first 5G-based use cases in the region are expected to focus on enhanced mobile broadband, which will add capacity and higher speeds for mobile internet access, usually in urban hotspots where 5G will be an offload solution to ease network congestion.

Carriers will also deploy 5G-based internet of things and enterprise solutions. The number of IoT connections in the CIS region is forecast to reach 660 million by 2025, opening up opportunities in areas such as smart cities and smart utilities.

Russian carriers MegaFon and Rostelecom have recently tested 5G technology in the 26 GHz frequency range and concluded that the band is suitable for commercial use, according to Russian press reports. Pavel Mamchenkov, head of radiofrequency support for MegaFon, reportedly said that high-frequency tests have been run on specific 5G user scenarios including telemedicine broadcasts and remote diagnosis of patients, alongside other 5G tests such as autonomous transport.

Under a November 2017 partnership agreement, the two telcos have conducted 5G trials – including pilot networks during this summer’s football World Cup – in several frequency bands including 5G test allocations in the 2600 MHz and 3.5 GHz ranges.


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