Key developers of base stations based on OpenRAN architecture are moving from Skoltech to MTS structures

Key developers of base stations based on OpenRAN architecture are moving from Skoltech to MTS structures

As Kommersant found out, key developers of base stations (BS) on OpenRAN architecture, who previously worked at Skoltech, are moving to MTS structures. They must establish serial production of BS by 2026 as part of the implementation of the activities of the profile “road map”. Skoltech will abandon the project to develop and produce 4G/5G base stations. The decision, according to Kommersant, is due to the fact that the institute could not find funds to co-finance 50% of the project cost (5.6 billion rubles) – this is a key condition for receiving government subsidies. In the future, the organization intends to sell intellectual property related to developments in the field of mobile communications.

According to Kommersant’s interlocutor in the IT market, MTS has agreed to transfer from Skoltech to the operator-owned company Irtea a team of “30–35 employees” involved in the development of 4G/5G communication base stations on an open architecture (Open Radio Access Network, OpenRAN). This, according to the interlocutor, is the main part of the team working on the project.

MTS explained to Kommersant that Irtea “continues to increase its resources and is recruiting developers and engineers on the open market who have experience in creating solutions for mobile communications.” A company representative emphasized that “there is no talk of buying the team.” At the same time, MTS clarified that Dmitry Lakontsev will become the general director of Irtea from November 21, who “accepted the offer to join the team, which will seriously strengthen the project.”

Now Mr. Lakontsev heads the competence center of the National Technology Initiative based on Skoltech, as follows from the information published on the organization’s website. A Kommersant source in the IT market says that Irtey will recruit 30 people in November, and an additional 30 in December.

Irteya LLC (formerly MTS Electronics; established in 2021 with an authorized capital of 500 million rubles) is 100% owned by MTS. In September, Vedomosti wrote that this company will develop and produce 4G/5G communication base stations based on OpenRAN architecture; by June 2026, it intends to produce up to 20 thousand base stations per year. The company intends to allocate 5.6 billion rubles for these purposes. own funds and receive the same amount for the project in the form of state subsidies, the publication wrote with reference to the August version of the road map “Modern and promising mobile communication networks for the period until 2030.”

In the February version of the “road map” (available from Kommersant), Skoltech was named as the executor of the same activities with similar financing parameters. And work on the project was carried out: in April Skoltech announced the development of the first Russian 5G communication base station, the budget of this project amounted to 342 million rubles, 300 million rubles. of which were received in the form of a grant.

Kommersant’s interlocutor at the market explains that Skoltech was unable to find funds for 50% co-financing of its developments. This is necessary under the conditions for receiving subsidies as part of the implementation of the “road map”. According to Kommersant’s source, this is why Skoltech abandoned plans to develop a BS on OpenRAN, deciding to focus on conducting research within the framework of the roadmap. “We are talking about 5G Advanced and the sixth generation (6G). This is a huge layer of problems that our researchers are already working on,” Skoltech explained to Kommersant.

MTS structures are interested in purchasing rights to patents belonging to Skoltech and related to the development of equipment for OpenRAN, Kommersant’s interlocutors in the market say. According to one of them, Skoltech intends to establish a new legal entity, transfer patents to it, and then sell it to an investor.

Skoltech itself confirmed to Kommersant that they plan to commercialize intellectual property related to developments in the field of mobile communications, but “this is not a task for today.” “We will carefully consider the proposals,” Skoltech clarified. According to a Kommersant source in the market, Irtea could become the buyer of a legal entity with patents. MTS, however, denies interest in purchasing intellectual property: “Irtea and MTS have not entered into and do not plan to enter into agreements with Skoltech.”

Nikita Korolev, Timofey Kornev

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