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WiMAX players shifting to LTE?

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Russian WiMAX player Scartel, which operates under the Yota brand, is shifting its strategy to focus on LTE, which is seen as a rival or complimentary technology to WiMAX depending on who you talk to.

The Russian firm, which has already spent close to $500m on its WiMAX buildout in Moscow and St. Petersburg, is now looking to LTE to provide coverage in dozens of other cities in Russia, with an eye to bringing LTE to the country’s two largest metropolitan areas in 2011.

It is understood that Yota will introduce LTE in the 2.5GHz band which it presently uses for WiMAX, allowing the firm to use the existing equipment it has for WiMAX and swap out the radio.

The problem here is device availability. As the Informer noted in Friday’s AWIW, given the mess of spectrum being used for LTE trials and deployments at the moment (700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 2.1GHz, 2.6GHz and now 2.5GHz have all been touted) there’s a need to get the LTE ecosystem moving along a bit with a view towards consolidating those bands and getting some devices in production. The Informer’s not holding his breath however. When Moray Rumney, lead technologist at testing firm Agilent Technologies stood up to ask such a question of the operator panel at the LTE World Summit, he didn’t get much of an answer.

Still, Yota might have some company. Telecoms.com has heard that a certain Middle Eastern operator with spectrum in the 2.5GHz band is also thinking about the shift from WiMAX to LTE.

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