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MegaFon Lures Muscovites With Faster Data Requiring $340 Router

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Feb. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Russian mobile carrier OAO MegaFon, trying to fend off competition, started offering Muscovites what it calls the world’s fastest wireless connection. The catch: customers have to buy a $340 router to get the record speeds.

The connection, first available in central Moscow, offers speeds as high as 300 megabits per second, MegaFon said today in a statement. Such speeds, fast enough to download a two-hour movie in less than a minute, are usually only available through fixed broadband service.

MegaFon, Russia’s second-biggest mobile carrier, is seeking to keep its image as the country’s leader in wireless-data services as consumers increasingly browse the Web on mobile devices. Larger rival OAO Mobile TeleSystems caught up with MegaFon in mobile-data revenue in the third quarter.

There are no smartphones or tablets yet supporting the new faster standard, dubbed 4G+, requiring customers to purchase a $340 Huawei Technologies Co. router for their home or office, MegaFon said. Users can link as many as 32 smartphones or tablets simultaneously to that device via Wi-Fi, and the router will connect to MegaFon’s network wirelessly.

MegaFon, controlled by Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov and part-owned by Sweden’s TeliaSonera AB, purchased mobile-data operator Scartel last year for $1.18 billion to expand its data capabilities. MegaFon also sponsored the Sochi Olympics and provided wireless connection at the games.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilya Khrennikov in Moscow at ikhrennikov@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net