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With speeds at least 10 times faster than 4G technology, 5G – the fifth-generation cellular network technology – is expected to power internet-connected products ranging from self-driving cars and smart cities to augmented reality and artificial intelligence. 

The 3.4-3.8GHz range is widely popular for 5G technology, with only China and Japan using 4.4-4.99GHz, a frequency with limited equipment availability.

Russia risks falling behind the rest of the world in next-generation 5G technology after President Vladimir Putin has reserved its most popular frequency range for the military and intelligence services, according to

The Swedish telecom equipment supplier Ericsson announced that it launched Russia’s first 5G zone in central Moscow with the country’s fourth-largest operator Tele2. Putin’s digital economy project aims to deploy 5G across major Russian cities by 2022.

Putin has sided with the Security Council in its position against allocating the 3.4GHz-3.8GHZ frequency range to mobile operators for the development of 5G. These frequencies are reportedly reserved for military, intelligence and security use. 

Russia’s Communications Ministry has proposed allocating the 4.4GHz-4.99GHz frequency range for 5G, the Kommersant business daily reported this week. However, an unnamed source from one of Russia’s top four telecom providers told this was fake news. 

“..Operators and the Communications Ministry are currently rewriting the 5G development concept with a view toward 3.4-3.8GHz,” the source said.

Official sources in all major mobile operators said using an unpopular frequency range might throw the adaptation of 5G in Russia back by 5-7 years, make the network less investment attractive, unless Russia succeeds in following a scenario of setting up its own 5G ecosystem with more expensive network and terminal equipment, according to

Part of the problem is there is no off-shelf technology for the little used 4.4-4.99 GHz frequency range, so Russia will have to design and build much of the equipment itself – which actually might be the motivation for the puzzling choice.