Today I have some tidbits of information on the state of LTE deployment in St. Petersburg in addition to my previous post on 3G. Despite my Russian SIM card of MTS proclaiming '4G' I did not yet get LTE service. However, my mobile already picked up four LTE networks so activation is probably not far away anymore or has perhaps already happened in the networks for which I did not have a SIM card.
With some additional digging I was able to get some more details:
The four networks shown in the screenshot are actually three physical networks as Yota and Megafon share a single 15 MHz carrier in a MOCN (Multiple Operator Core Network) setup in LTE band 7 (2600 MHz). That's probably not surprising as a quick Google search revealed that Yota was bought by Megafon last year. SIB-5 announces a 5 MHz carrier in band 20 (digital dividend 800 MHz) but I didn't pick up a signal there. And finally my German SIM card was properly rejected with cause code #15 (no suitable cells in this tracking area) to encourage an Inter-RAT cell reselection to 2G or 3G.
MTS is also active in Band 7 (2600 MHz) but 'only' with a 10 MHz carrier. My German SIM card was somewhat rudely rejected with cause code #111 (protocol error unspecified). While it serves the purpose it doesn't encourage the mobile to do an InterRAT reselection instead of looking for an alternative network operator which might not be good for capturing roamers. Perhaps something to look at in case anyone from MTS reads this post… But at least the network didn't send an 'EPS and non-EPS services not allowed' which would have made the mobile never to try the network again. No, I'm not kidding, I've seen this reject cause in the past in other networks. As my Russian MTS SIM card does not get service on the LTE layer I assume that the network is not yet live for real customers. I also get this impression from the 'intraFreqReselection' parameter which is set to 'not allowed', which is quite unusual, even in test networks.
And finally, Beeline was also present in Band 7 (2600 MHz) with a 10 MHz carrier and my German SIM was also rejected with cause code #111 (protocol error unspecified).
So no LTE for me this year but perhaps there will be service should I return next year. Let's see.