Russian mobile and Internet calls deteriorate after Nokia and Ericsson leave

Russian mobile and Internet calls deteriorate after Nokia and Ericsson leave

  • Russian telecom users expect to see slower data, more dropped calls, longer outages – sources
  • This content was produced in Russia where the law limits coverage of Russian military operations in Ukraine

STOCKHOLM/MOSCOW, Dec 21 (Reuters) – When telecommunications equipment makers Nokia (NOKIA.HE) and Ericsson (ERICb.ST) leave Russia at the end of the year, their departure could regularly cripple mobile networks of the country in the long term, triggering a deterioration in communication for ordinary Russians.

Five senior telecommunications executives and other industry sources said Russian mobile phone users would likely experience slower downloads and downloads, more dropped calls, calls that won’t connect and more outages. lengthy, as operators lose the ability to upgrade or patch software, and fight for diminished availability. parts inventory.

Ericsson and Nokia, which together account for a large share of the telecom equipment market and almost 50% in terms of base stations in Russia, make everything from telecom antennas to hardware that connects optical fiber carrying digital signals.

They also provide essential software that allows different parts of the network to work together.

“We’re working towards the end of the year and that’s when all the (sanctions) waivers expire,” Ericsson chief financial officer Carl Mellander told Reuters. Ericsson received sanction exemptions from the Swedish authorities.

Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark echoed that sentiment in an interview: “Our exit will be complete. We’re not going to deliver anything to Russia.”

Russia’s economy has so far resisted sanctions and export controls put in place by governments after Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops to Ukraine, but the impending withdrawal of Nokia and Ericsson could have a deeper impact on everyday Russian life, ultimately making something so simple. like a phone call, difficult.

Russia’s digital ministry did not respond to requests for comment, but this week Maksut Shadaev, minister of communications and media, said four telecom operators were signing contracts to spend more than 100 billion rubles (1, $45 billion) in Russian-made equipment.

“This will allow us to organize modern production of telecommunications equipment in Russia,” he said, without naming operators or producers.

Major Russian telecom operator MTS (MTSS.MM) declined to comment for this story. Megafon, Veon’s (VON.AS) Beeline and Tele 2, the other companies that make up Russia’s Big Four telecoms, did not respond to requests for comment.

Government programs to promote Russian equipment have helped telecom operators become less dependent on Nokia and Ericsson in recent years and Russian producers have increased their market share this year to 25.2% from 11, 6% in 2021. But the severing of ties with foreign companies is Russian communications are expected to set back a generation as the rest of the world moves forward with the rollout of 5G technologies, according to industry sources.

“If, presumably, this situation lasts for years, Russian cellular networks in terms of coverage could return to the state of the late 1990s, when their coverage was limited to large cities and wealthier suburbs,” said Leonid Konik, who heads the IT department. publication ComNews in Moscow.

Rural areas will begin to crumble first as carriers remove equipment to bolster urban networks, telecoms experts have said, while a lack of software updates can lead to network outages or expose them to cyberattacks.

Chinese telecoms maker Huawei, the largest supplier in Russia last year with more than a third of the market, will continue to provide software updates and carry out maintenance work, but has stopped selling new equipment. in Russia, according to sources familiar with the matter.


The biggest hurdle for mobile operators to keep their networks running will be a lack of software updates – Nokia and Ericsson have said they will discontinue software updates by next year – and patches, they said. indicated the sources.

Software unifies a range of equipment that make up a telecommunications network, converts analog and digital signals; monitors and optimizes network traffic; and protects the infrastructure against cyberattacks.

While mobile operators may store hardware components for future use, they depend on a regular schedule of licensed software updates and patches to maintain the integrity of a network.

“Undoubtedly, software patches are paramount to ensuring that networks remain operational, secure and reliable,” said Paolo Pescatore, analyst at PP Foresight.

Russian telecom operators stockpiled foreign-made parts in February and March before the sanctions, two of the industry sources said, but stocks will fall after Nokia and Ericsson pull the plug on Dec. 31.

Consolidation among Russian carriers at the government’s request could also allow them to share equipment and resources to make networks last longer, industry sources added.

Huawei [RIC:RIC:HWT.UL], which stopped selling new hardware in Russia when the United States began to sanction Russia, has also stopped selling its smartphones in the country, according to three sources familiar with the matter. Huawei has not publicly disclosed its status in Russia and declined to comment.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Alexander Marrow in Moscow; Editing by Kenneth Li and Chris Sanders

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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