The Swedish vendor is likely looking to take advantage of new Russian regulations that will force operators to use domestically produced equipment for LTE rollouts

According to Russian news outlet Kommersant, Ericsson is currently auditing a potential site in Kaliningrad that the company could use to manufacture 4G and 5G equipment.

According to sources, Ericsson could be looking to build a manufacturing plant at the location either alone or with a Russian partner.

The move appears to be directly related to a ruling by the Russian regulatory body, the General Radio Frequency Centre (GRFC), which decided in August to renew the Russian mobile operators LTE licences to use spectrum in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, and 2.5–2.7 GHz for the next ten years. As part of the conditions for renewal, from 2023, the operators will be required to use only equipment produced in Russia for the construction of LTE networks.

In Russia, domestic telecoms equipment companies currently supply around 21% of the nation’s telecoms infrastructure, leaving plenty of room for growth for domestic suppliers.  

“The entire market is estimated at more than 400 billion rubles [~$5.42 billion], so we see quite serious potential for the development of Russian and localised joint projects,” said Denis Manturov, Russia’s Industry and Trade Minister last month.

Ericsson is not alone in moving to make the most of this opportunity. Last month, rival Nokia announced it would launch a joint venture with Russian company YADRO to build 4G and 5G base stations, with ownership of the newly formed company reportedly split 49% to 51%, respectively.

Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE, meanwhile, have also reportedly shown interest in producing equipment within Russian, though no specific plans have been announced.

Earlier this year, Ericsson signed a strategic partnership with Russia’s largest operator, MTS, aiming to develop private 5G networks together for industrial enterprises. 

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