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US$6 billion TETRA project planned for Russia

MOSCOW-Siemens and the Russian Development Bank (RBR) announced an ambitious plan to invest US$6 billion in the coming five to 10 years into the creation of a pan-Russian Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) network.

RBR, which acts as the financial consultant for the TETRA project, predicted 700,000 clients by 2005 and 1.5 million clients by 2010. They will include the armed forces, secret services, law enforcers, ambulances, fire brigades, municipal services and major corporations.

“The implementation of the project will provide modern digital radio communications to big government and corporate users,” said RBR Director General Tatyana Ryskina. “Besides, TETRA is an open standard and thus allows us to involve Russian producers together with foreign ones, which may yield a synergetic effect for the Russian economy.”

However Siemens’ Austrian office, which deals with TETRA development, was cautious in its forecasts. The project “is at the design stage when concrete requirements to equipment and its operation are determined, as well as financial and organization issues,” the Vedomosti newspaper quoted a spokesman of the office as saying.

The project needs the approval of the Russian Communications Ministry, which is backing the idea. Ministry spokesman Sergei Grigorenko said a working group had been set up to “design a systematic approach to the creation of a unified network of professional radio communications.” The group is to consider network parameters by the end of 2002.

However, Russian wireless market experts are somewhat dubious about the project, mostly due to the unprecedented investment and long implementation period. “US$6 billion seem to be an unreal figure. It exceeds investment plans of the biggest wireless carriers, Vimpelcom and MTS (Mobile TeleSystems),” said Nadezhda Golubeva from the Moscow-based Aton consultancy.

Besides, new technologies may appear in 10 years making the currently promising TETRA system outdated. “Modern technologies are developing so quickly that it is not the best option to put a stake on the construction of a trunked network of the TETRA standard with such costs and during such a long period of time,” said Konstantin Chernyshev from the NIKoil investment and banking group in the Vedomosti report.

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