Wireless service in Russia experiencing measured drop as tech departs

Wireless service

Russian telecoms are expected to see increased problems and outages with Nokia and Ericsson departure.

Telecom companies are already starting to see reductions in their wireless service quality in Russia as restrictions start showing their impact.

The law reigns in Russian military coverage of operations occurring in Ukraine, leading to problems.

Nokia and Ericsson both left Russia at the end of 2022, and with the calendar turn into the new year, it was already becoming obvious that problems such as dropped calls, reduced wireless service speeds and increased outages were growing in number. The departure of those companies – particularly in combination with other existing issues in the area – are expected to continue to expand the communication deterioration Russians are seeing on an everyday basis.

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Industry sources including five senior telecom execs have stated that Russian phone users should expect their download and upload speeds to continue to decline. They should also brace for increased instances of dropped calls or calls that won’t connect in the first place. Outages are expected to be more frequent and longer when they occur.

Russian wireless service operators are losing their capacity to upgrade, patch and repair software and hardware.

Telecom companies in Russia are watching their opportunities to upgrade and patch their software shrink. At the same time, they’re fighting among themselves over small inventories of spare parts that are only expected to shrivel.

Nokia and Ericsson represented a large combined share of the equipment market for telecom companies in the country. They also comprised nearly 50 percent of the base stations across the country. Those companies produced everything from the hardware connecting optical fiber carrying the digital signals in the first place to the telecom antennas that broadcasted the wireless service signals. They also provided critical software making it possible for various network parts to work together. They left the country entirely when the ball dropped at the end of 2022.

“We are working towards the end of the year and that’s when all exemptions [from sanctions] expire,” said Carl Mellander, chief finance officer at Ericsson, as quoted by Reuters shortly before the end of last year. The sanctions Ericsson received were provided by Swedish authorities but came to an end with the start of 2023.

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