Russia plots 4G future – good news for startups?

YotaYota, the Russian mobile broadband company, has signed a deal with the country’s main network operators – Beeline, Megafon, MTS and Rostelekom – that plots out a 4G future. A future that should benefit local startups.

Under the deal, the signing of which was witnessed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin no less, Yota is to become the 4G network provider for the Russian telco market which will see the roll-out of its LTE network to cover 180 cities by 2014, providing coverage for over 70 million of the population.

Additionally, under the terms, each operator has an option to buy shares in Yota in 2014. It’s part of the company’s strategy of providing “open infrastructure to competing service providers” that avoids the duplication of infrastructure investment that more traditional competition entails and is said to offer “a model for the industry that can be rolled-out across the world.”

In other words, it separates network ownership and service provision – more along the lines of a MVNO model – and perhaps takes into account the otherwise inevitable consolidation that we’re seeing in the UK through network share agreements or outright mergers. Mobile infrastructure is after all an extremely expensive business.

Lastly, the press release makes mention of the deal being a “major boost to the Russian economy” in which millions of Russian consumers will benefit from faster access to 4G services and lower prices, which will obviously be music to the ears of local startups.