Development of 5G communication in Russia postponed until 2022

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The government has postponed the massive introduction of the new mobile communication standard for one year – 5G will appear in Russia only after 2022. Until this moment, the demand for technology has not yet formed, officials say.

Now the mass construction of networks is planned to begin no earlier than at the end of 2021. This follows from the materials for the meeting of the supervisory board of ANO Tsifrovaya economical, which took place on Tuesday, September 4 (RBC has a copy of the materials, their authenticity was confirmed by an ANO representative).

Only by the end of 2021 will there be conditions for a large-scale launch of 5G in Russia.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Asimov, who spoke after the meeting of the Supervisory Board, the postponement is due to the fact that 5G still has to “mature commercial demand within the economy.

A new generation of communication

The 5G mobile standard should replace LTE (4G) technology. It is expected that the maximum data transfer rate in such networks will reach 20 Gaps, the signal delay will be 1 Ms. These characteristics will allow the Internet of Things (IoT) to develop, as well as new developments like self-driving cars and augmented and virtual reality services.

Plans are changing

The program for the development of the digital economy, approved in mid-2018, assumed that 5G networks would appear in five cities with a population of one million by 2022, and in the fifteen largest cities of the country by 2024.

However, at the beginning of 2018, the government agreed on an action plan in the direction of “Information infrastructure” (assumes the development of 5G networks). This document no longer declares intentions to organize a 5G “carpet”: instead, it is assumed that the networks will develop according to the industry principle (that is, implementation should begin in five key industries, but which ones are not indicated).

The concept for the development and creation of such networks in Russia was planned to be approved by June 2018. By the same date, departments and interested manufacturers had to “assess the capabilities of the domestic industry for the production of telecommunications equipment” for 5G. The document stipulated that pilot projects in five industries and in one million-plus city would be completed by September 2019, and preparations for the large-scale implementation of a new generation of communications in the country would be completed by the end of 2020.

Together or apart

Market participants reacted differently to the postponement of the launch of 5G in Russia. According to a representative of the press service of Megaphone, the company adheres to plans to implement pilot projects using 5G technologies in 2019. “This approach will allow us to work out technical issues related to the construction of infrastructure and test the possibilities of using the technology,” said a company representative. Megaphone tested 5G during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

In Moscow, the company had a virtual reality zone, in Kazan – an unmanned bus, in St. Petersburg – a prototype of a 5G smartphone. As the head of the company, Sergei Soldatenkov, said in an interview with RBC, the operator was going to transfer the test results to the regulator and hoped that they would be useful in determining the future fate of the technology in Russia.

“To date, the standard for the development of 5G has not yet been finalized, this will only happen in 2019.  According to Galatian, in order to maintain financial stability and effectively use the limited frequency resource, operators need to decide whether they will apply the model of joint construction of networks in the development of 5G. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure new regulatory requirements for the storage of traffic: from July 1, the requirements of the “Yarovaya Law” came into force, according to which telecom operators must keep records of subscribers’ telephone conversations and SMS correspondence for six months, and from October 1 also Internet traffic … “Too early and not fully thought out the start of investments can lead to not quite the desired result,” Galatian believes.

Press secretary of VimpelCom (Beeline brand) Anna Aibasheva noted that the company will be ready to launch the first 5G zones within six months after the end of the auctions. However, she did not comment on the timing of the postponement of the action plan. An MTS spokesman declined to comment.

As previously estimated by PwC, each Russian mobile operator will have to invest 130-165 billion rubles. in the development of 5G networks. If MTS, Megaphone, VimpelCom and T2 RTK Holding (Tele2 brand) build their own 5G infrastructures, uniting with competitors only in certain zones, the total costs of the industry will amount to 550-610 billion rubles. If two or more operators begin to jointly use 50-70% of the equipment being introduced and the existing passive infrastructure (towers for placing base stations, ducts for communication cables, etc.), then the industry’s costs may drop to 400-445 billion rubles. However, market players said that they were ready for partnership only in certain regions.