The UMTS Forum and Russia's 3G Association have signed a co-operation agreement confirming their common interest to promote the success of 3G/UMTS mobile systems in the Russian region.
The agreement was signed at a Joint Workshop hosted by the two associations held in Moscow this week (June 7th). Titled '3G Cellular Communications Introduction in Russia', the event included participation of operator and manufacturer members of both organisations, as well as members of Russia's telecoms administrations. Exploring 3G's future in Russia, the workshop featured presentations examining regulatory, spectrum, market, deployment and service aspects of 3G/UMTS.
The workshop was introduced by Alexander Kiselyov, Deputy Minister of Informational Technologies and Communications of the Russian Federation, who also delivered a welcome address on behalf of Leonid Reiman, Minister of Informational Technologies and Communications. A speech of welcome was also presented on behalf of Vladimir L. Gorbachev, the First Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Energy, Transport and Communications of the State Duma, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.
With 3G licensing in Russia anticipated next year (2005), mobile industry players in the region have already signalled the importance of 3G/UMTS in providing additional network capacity and new services, particularly in dense urban regions where current cellular networks are becoming increasingly congested. With approaching twenty five 3G/UMTS networks already launched commercially elsewhere in the world plus many more in trial, Russia has expressed its intention to create a licensing framework based on the experiences to date of 3G network operators in other countries while also considering the unique geopolitical and economic features of Russia.
"In Russia there already exists not only the conditions for deploying 3G networks, but also all the capabilities", noted 3G Association Executive Director Andrey Skorodumov. "It's widely believed that the deployment of 3G networks across all Russia should take place even earlier than there is demand for them. This may provide a unique chance for accelerated development of the country's whole telecommunications industry."
"Thanks to its size and economic importance, the Russian Federation stands to gain particularly from the benefits that GSM evolution to 3G/UMTS offers", commented UMTS Forum Chairman Jean-Pierre Bienaim. "As well as adding greater network capacity for voice and data services at reduced incremental cost, 3G/UMTS offers an exciting platform for new services that will stimulate greater usage and ARPUs across the entire region."
Today, mobile networks are deployed in all the federal constituents of the Russian Federation, and together they have over 42 million subscribers, of which more than 95% are subscribers of GSM networks. The number of subscribers continues to grow rapidly and the average penetration level exceeds 30%, while in Moscow this figure is greater than 74%. Across the Federation, the overall number of mobile phones already exceeds the number of fixed telephones.