FOCUS: Russia to revamp telecom nets for ’18 World Cup, Rostelecom may sponsor

As Russia is busy preparing facilities for the 2018 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament the communications ministry may pump 3.22 billion rubles into the construction and upgrade of the telecommunications networks for the event, which will need much more injections according to analysts. Rostelecom is named by observers as the most probable sponsor.


The 2015–2017 federal budget stipulates the allocation of 1.57 billion rubles in 2016 and 1.65 billion rubles in 2017 for getting the telecommunications network ready for the World Cup, which will be held in 11 cities of the country at 12 stadiums.
“By analogy with the Winter Olympics in Sochi, we may say that the bulk of spending will have the form of provision with telecommunications and IT infrastructure at sports facilities, as well as by improving wireline and wireless access,” research company J’son & Partners Consulting’s Executive Director Sergei Shavkunov told Russian Connection.


Shavkunov said that 90% of the allocated money will be spent on local telecommunications and IT infrastructure deployed at sports facilities with the remainder invested into the upgrade of existing networks. 


Investments may increase later. “The renovation of the telecommunications infrastructure, as well as the expansion of handling capacities of connection channels, along with the provision of special connection and support of specialized information systems, may prove to be more expensive than in the Sochi case, when preparation of telecommunications infrastructure consumed almost 7 billion rubles,” Ilya Frolov, senior manager at research and analysis at Promsvyazbank, said. 


He added that the network revamp will have to involve private contributions. The country’s three largest operators – MTS, MegaFon and VimpelCom – will have to boost capacities of their networks at the World Cup sites that will result in a high density of base stations locations.
Moscow and Sochi seem to be the only two cities out of the 11 hotspots of the championship that will not need a serious upgrade of telecommunications infrastructure. “In other cities the net fails to comply with the World Cup requirements, and additional investments will follow,” Zerich Capital Management senior analyst Viktor Markov said.


J’son & Partners Consulting’s Shavkunov said the information and communication technology infrastructure (ICT-infrastructure) will be deployed using latest technologies making comparisons with the Sochi Olympics incorrect. “Not only technologies of construction are changing, but also changing are the approaches to the provision of sophisticated sports facilities, like stadiums, with the information and telecommunications infrastructure,” he said. 


“Possibly, it could be more correct to look at the matter not from the point of view of capital expenditures, but operating expenditures, meaning what volume and which information and communications services will be in demand during the 2018 tournament.”