Telecommunication equipment manufacturers Nokia and Ericsson are leaving the Russian market at the end of the year, and their departure may seriously undermine the country’s mobile communications networks, Reuters writes.
Industry sources said Russian mobile users are likely to experience slower uploads and downloads, more dropped calls and connection difficulties, and disruptions as operators are unable to update or repair software and physical spare parts run out.
Ericsson and Nokia, which together serve nearly 50% of Russia’s base stations, make everything from antennas to equipment that connects optical cables. Also, companies provide software that allows different parts of a telecommunications network to function together.
Carl Mellander, CFO of Ericsson, said to Reuters that the moment has come when the sanctions take effect in full, and the exceptions are no longer relevant. Nokia’s CEO also confirmed that the company’s exit from the Russian market will be complete and that it will no longer be supplied with anything.
So far, the Russian economy has coped with the sanctions imposed on it, but the departure of telecommunication equipment manufacturers could have a profound effect on Russians’ daily lives, making even simple activities like making phone calls difficult.
Russia has not given comments on this, but its telecommunications operators are reportedly already signing contracts to buy 1,45 billion dollars worth of Russian-made equipment.
Although Russia has turned more towards domestic companies in recent years, the departure of foreign manufacturers will set Russian mobile communications back several decades. The head of the IT news portal ComNews, Leonid Konik, stated that a situation may arise when mobile communications are available only in cities and the wealthiest areas.
Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei will no longer sell new equipment to Russia but will continue to update its software and perform maintenance work.
The biggest problem for mobile operators will be keeping the network up and running without the ability to update or fix the software, as neither Nokia nor Ericsson will offer updates anymore. It is the software that allows the different parts of the network to connect and ensure that it works as intended.
Russia purchased equipment stocks and started doing so already in February and March before the Western sanctions came into force, but this will not be enough to keep mobile networks functioning normally.