In what has been presented as a world first, Scartel, the Russian WiMAX and LTE operator operating under the Yota brand, announced last week it has implemented LTE Advanced technology in eleven of its LTE base stations in Moscow.

LTE Advanced is a major enhancement of the LTE standard. The Russian operator claims it will provide Moscow 4G users with data transfer rates of up to 300 Mbit/s with a theoretical maximum of 1 Gbit/s.

“As [we] provide networks to several MVNOs, LTE Advanced [will allow us to] match our network capacity to the constant growth of data consumption. The only way to accomplish this task is to implement cutting-edge telecommunication technologies,” stated Yota Networks CEO Egor Ivanov.

User devices that support the LTE Advanced standard will be made available to Yota Networks’ MVNOs in the first half of 2013. At this point, Yota Networks plans to have deployed the technology across its entire commercial network by then.

“We are sending a signal to the market, so that LTE chips and mobile devices be made available to consumers as soon as possible,” Ivanov explained to French business newspaper La Tribune.

Huawei has supplied an end-to-end SingleRAN LTE/EPC solution and built Scartel’s commercial LTE network on 2.6GHz.

Scartel pioneered 4G in Russia with the commercial launch of the first LTE networkin January of this year in Novosibisrk, Siberia. It then orchestrated the switch from WiMAX to LTE network in Moscow. The operator has plans to progressively convert its entire network, which covers many regions of the country.

Expert opinion, by Sergey Maltseff, ICT-Online.ru

Yota is, indeed, the first company in the world to launch an LTE Advanced network, but this has been essentially a PR operation. Eleven stations is just symbolical; big foreign operators like Japan’s NTT, South Korea’s SK Telecom or AT&T in the US have the capacity to launch networks at a much larger scale.

Yota might succeed in being the first to launch LTE Advanced commercially, but this is unlikely to happen as soon as mid 2013 as announced. In addition, operators will have much to do to persuade users to pay more for 4G. Sales of LTE modems have not been skyrocketing so far.