Russia is planning to oversee the formation of a single mobile network operator covering the four 'new regions' unilaterally claimed by Russia within Ukrainian territory in the wake of last year's invasion.

These territories are located in parts of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaphorozhye.

– Getty Images

A report published by earlier this month revealed the plans of the Russian Ministry of Digital Development, Communications & Mass Media.

In the report, the head of the Ministry Maksut Shadayev told reporters that the country is planning to consolidate the assets of Russian-backed operators in these areas - per Comms Update.

This will see the Ministry aim to combine operators Lugacom and Phoenix to create a single MNO in the regions, along with MirTelecom and +7Telecom.

Lugacom has been providing mobile services in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic, while Phoenix has done a similar job in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Meanwhile, MirTelecom and +7Telecom have appeared in Russian-occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions.

Earlier this week, Russia announced that it expects to conduct pilot testing of 5G networks using Russian-built base stations in 2025, with plans to deliver 75,000 base stations by 2030.

In January of this year, Russian telecom operators entered into forward contracts with domestic manufacturers for the supply of base stations, including a plan for the supply of equipment for 5G networks for over $1.32 billion.

It wouldn't be the first time that Russia has taken over Internet services on Ukrainian soil, also doing so in its annexation of Crimea back in 2014.

Prior to the seizure, the Crimean Internet took place over Ukrainian networks and laws. From March 2014, however, that changed - with the territory falling under Russian Internet regulations.

The new government soon began building the infrastructure required to remove Crimea from Ukraine, but the process was slow as the poor region was heavily reliant on the Ukrainian mainland for supplies and connectivity.

This led to Ukrainian mobile operators leaving the region, with MTS exiting by choice by selling its assets, while Ukrtelecom was forced out of the region when armed guards stopped the telco's staff from entering their offices and facilities. In the latter case, Russian-backed Krymtelekom took over the operations.

However, Crimean residents were hampered by slow Internet speeds as part of the transition over to the Russian network operators, with Internet users in the region regularly complaining about increased latency.

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