Russian mobile operator Vimpelcom, working under the Beeline brand, plans to stop investing in the development of its 3G network, according to a report that cited Alexander Popovsky, vice-president for corporate strategy and business development. The investment in 3G is now being reduced and will cease entirely during 2016. No new new 3G networks will be deployed, while the operator focuses on its 4G/LTE rollout. Popovsky said the decision was made in response to the explosive growth in LTE services and with the expectation that most smartphones that will be on the market next year will support LTE.
As in most markets now, 4G/LTE is coming to be a standard expectation in Russia, and the need to deploy it as soon as possible dictates that all available development resources be allocated for it. At this point, 3G is rapidly becoming a legacy service, one to be supported but not extended or enhanced. For operators, remaining competitive requires a single-minded commitment to 4G, and Vimpelcom’s approach of rapidly reducing 3G investment is emblematic of its intention to fully meet the demands of the marketplace.