Russian operator MTS and Samsung are to launch a 4G LTE network in the country’s North West region by the end of this year, the two firms have announced.

Testing of the LTE FDD network, which is based in the Pskov region, is now underway.

By 2015, MTS said it plans to deploy “significant amounts” of 4G LTE base stations in the area as part of the two companies’ three-year agreement.

The deal includes cooperation on consumer device sales through the MTS Retail Chain, with the operator pledging to introduce special tariff plans for flagship Samsung devices.

“We can already see that total data traffic has more than doubled in these [North West] regions in the past year. Due to the emergence of a large number of smartphones supporting 4G, the demand for high-speed internet on fourth-generation networks will grow exponentially,” commented Kirill Dmitriev, Director of MTS in the regions of North-West.

The operator is constructing an LTE network in nearby St Petersburg as well as in Moscow, where NSN is providing the infrastructure.

Overall, it plans to cover around 600 population centres across Russia with LTE by the end of this year.

The deal is a further boost to Samsung as it looks to gain a foothold in Europe and challenge market leader Ericsson.

In April it won a deal to supply 3 Ireland with a 4G LTE radio access network, while at Mobile World Congress in February it announced its first deal with a European operator in the form of Telefonica.

IP Hong, VP and Head of Europe and CIS Sales at Samsung’s Networks Business said the MTS deal is “a significant milestone for us in accelerating our network business”.

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