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MOSCOW, March 12 - Russia's Rostelecom, at the centre of the plan to develop state telecoms assets, has won the bulk of the fourth-generation wireless network licences covering nearly a third of the Russian population.
In the auctions held in February and March, Rostelecom, part of state telecoms giant Svyazinvest, was awarded licences to provide services within the 2.3-2.4 GHz frequency band in 38 regions of Russia out of 40 auctioned, according to the state body in charge of allocating the licences.
The Russian government, which wants to play a bigger role in the telecoms sector and in high-yielding mobile businesses in particular, last year cleared the reorganisation of Svyazinvest under the umbrella of Rostelecom.
Sibirtelecom, also part of Svyazinvest, has won the licence for the Tomsk region in Siberia, while the licence in Chechnya was awarded to local operator Vainakh Telecom.
Under the tender rules, the operators have a maximum of 18 months to build 4G networks using Russian-made equipment and start to provide services.
The 40 auctions did not cover Moscow and St Petersburg, where the so-called 'Big Three' mobile phone operators -- MTS, Vimpelcom and MegaFon -- have recently started providing full 3G services.