Future of 5G in Russia Remains Uncertain

5G in Russia is looking like a distant dream, as major network vendors Ericsson and Nokia have decided to suspend their operations in Russia, while Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE are grappling with US sanctions.

To compound matters, Russia’s 4G network is yet to reach full penetration levels, and Nokia and Ericsson’s exit might impact its expansion and upgrade. Although 5G is available in a few parts of Moscow and St Petersburg on the MTS network using Huawei equipment, the sanctions on the supply of semiconductors to Russia might hamper further imports of 5G equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

Telecom operators’ problems

Russia’s major telecom operators MTS, MegaFon, Beeline and Tele2 are facing the challenge of maintaining their network equipment as they are mainly dependent on Nokia and Ericsson for such requirements. Although MTS is also using Huawei’s equipment for providing 5G services in some parts of Moscow and St Petersburg, that too looks in limbo.

Russia Mobile Subscribers by MNOs, 2017-2021

Russia Mobile Subscribers by MNOs, 2017-2021

Sources: Company reports, Counterpoint Research

Huawei and ZTE might face difficulty in providing network equipment to Russian telecom operators, as they are heavily reliant on TSMC, Intel and Samsung on semiconductors, and wouldn’t want to be falling foul of US sanctions.

It might be a costly affair to replace the existing equipment with the new ones for providing 5G services, and telcos might look at focusing on improving their 4G coverage. Also, the Russian government is yet to auction the 5G spectrum. Deliberations are still on to decide the spectrum to be used for 5G services.

To overcome problems associated with 5G spectrum allocation, the telcos have formed a joint venture, New Digital Solutions, to test electromagnetic compatibility, conduct research on frequencies suitable for 5G services and implement measures to free up radio frequencies for 5G services.

Consumer distress

With major global service providers suspending their operations in the country, the Russian consumer is facing an increase in costs as telcos are increasing their tariffs to be able to maintain equipment and avoid frequent network disruptions.

Another issue that Russian consumers are facing is that they are not being able to purchase 5G smartphones from some of their favorite brands. While Apple, Samsung and some other brands have suspended their supplies to Russia, the sales of Chinese smartphone players are increasing.


Russia might have to wait to get 5G services, as the government hasn’t finalized the spectrum band for the auction, although the ministry concerned is moving towards mmWave in the 24.25GHz-27.5GHz band from existing radio relay stations and 4GHz. The plan is expected to be finalized not before 2023.

In the absence of Nokia and Ericsson, the telcos have to depend on Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE for most of their 5G equipment, but the situation here also looks uncertain for the time being. Chinese vendors are already reeling under the pressure of US sanctions and would be careful not to fall foul of the sanctions.

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Russia Lags Europe in 5G Deployment

Europe was an early adopter of 5G with Swiss telecom operator Sunrise deploying the continent’s first 5G network in April 2019. By the end of Q1 2021, 5G had been deployed in more than 30 European nations with most of them having multiple 5G operators. However, despite being Europe’s biggest market, Russia is lagging behind its counterparts. Out of all the operators in the country, only MTS has deployed 5G, that too in a limited capacity in the capital region. Others are still in the testing phase.


Counterpoint Research Russia 5G Phase

Among multiple obstacles faced by Russia’s operators in 5G deployment, the primary one is also the foundational one — allocation of the right spectrum. Operators are demanding C-band (3.3GHz-4.2GHz), which is considered the most ideal for 5G around the world, with the available equipment widely supporting it. But this band is occupied by Russian government agencies and the military. Deploying the network on other bands would be costlier as the equipment would have to be manufactured separately for this. As a result, companies would not be able to achieve economies of scale. The operators claim that their expenditure will not pay off till 2040 if they do not use the 3.5GHz-3.8Ghz band.

Moreover, the 4.4GHz-4.9GHz band is being used by NATO for aircraft recognition systems, which would get impacted if Russia decides to use the same band for its 5G services. Russia shares its border with five NATO countries.

The issues regarding 5G are so crucial that Tele2, Megafon and Beeline had to create a joint venture, New Digital Solutions, to overcome these obstacles. The JV, which got the regulatory approval in February 2021, will work to obtain the 694MHz-790MHz, 3.4GHz-3.8GHz, 4.4GHz-4.99GHz and 24.25GHz-29.5GHz bands.

Another factor that is causing the delay is the government’s concerns over security when using foreign equipment. The government has asked the operators to use domestic software and hardware from 2024 while deploying 5G. However, the operators think this will not be cost-effective as domestic partners are not available in sufficient numbers.

Considering all these factors, it is unlikely that large-scale 5G deployment would be possible in Russia for the next two to three years.

However, despite this, 5G smartphone shipment are on the rise in Russia, growing 39% QoQ in Q1 2021. Over one-fifth of the devices shipped in Russia in Q1 2021 were 5G capable, according to Counterpoint Research’s Market Monitor report for Q1 2021.


Counterpoint Research Russia 5G Shipments

The share of the premium smartphone segment, where 5G has become a standard offering, is increasing in Russia. At the same time, thanks to relatively new entrants like realme, 5G has been trickling down to the $300 and below segment.


Lack of spectrum and not-so-friendly regulations are slowing down 5G deployment in Russia. The customers seem to be willing as 5G capable phones are already fetching buyers, and this would be something operators can leverage upon once they start rolling out 5G services.

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Russia Online Smartphone Sales Grab Record 36% Share in Q1 2021

  • Samsung led in total smartphone sales while Xiaomi led in online channel share.
  • M.Video-Eldorado led among online platforms, followed by Svyaznoy and MTS.

London, San Diego, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul – June 9, 2021

Russia’s online smartphone sales reached their highest ever market share in Q1 2021 at 36%, according to the latest research from Counterpoint Research Model Sales Tracker. Russia is recovering from the second wave of COVID-19, which helped its smartphone market grow by 4% YoY in Q1 2021. The top three smartphone brands (Samsung, Xiaomi and Apple) held nearly 70% market share.

Commenting on brand performance, Research Analyst Soumen Mandal said, “Samsung maintained its leading position in the Russian smartphone market. It also improved its online share due to the strong performance of the Galaxy S21 series, Galaxy A51 and Galaxy A31 models. However, Samsung’s total smartphone sales decreased in Q1 2021 compared to Q4 2020. While Samsung managed to decrease its gap with Xiaomi in online sales, Xiaomi decreased its gap with Samsung in total smartphone sales during this quarter. Benefitting the most from Huawei’s dismal performance, Xiaomi increased its smartphone sales in Q1 2021 compared to Q4 2020. Apple’s smartphone sales increased 33% YoY as the iPhone 12 series was performing well even after a quarter of its launch. realme retained the fifth position in total smartphone sales. We expect a strong competition between realme and HONOR to take the fourth spot by the end of this year.”

Smartphone Market Share by OEMs in Russia Counterpoint Research

Mandal added, “Now, one out of five smartphones sold in Russia has 5G connectivity. Apple’s iPhone 12 series, Samsung’s newly launched Galaxy S21 series and Xiaomi’s Mi 10T were the top-selling 5G smartphones during this quarter. Among the Top 10 smartphone models sold, five were from Xiaomi, three from Apple and two were from Samsung. In the Top 10 list of smartphone models in terms of revenue, five were from Samsung, four from Apple and one was from Xiaomi. In terms of brands, Apple is ruling the market in revenues, followed by Samsung and Xiaomi. Apple and Samsung hold more than 70% share of the market in terms of revenue.”

Commenting on the market dynamics, Director Tarun Pathak said, “In Russia’s smartphone market, more than 20% of the smartphones are selling in the $150-$250 price band. However, the ASP (average selling price) of smartphones increased by 47% YoY to reach $307 in this quarter. The increasing sales of 5G smartphones and flagship models are driving the ASP rise. Smartphone sales in the $600 and above price band grew by more than 150% YoY in Q1 2021. Attractive trade-in offers supported by both online platforms and banking organizations are helping Russian consumers upgrade their devices.”

Smartphone Channel Share in Russia in Q1 2021 Counterpoint Research

Pathak added, “M.Video-Eldorado further increased its share in Russia’s online smartphone market in Q1 2021 compared to Q4 2020 and retained its top position among online smartphone platforms. Svyaznoy and MTS held second and third positions respectively. However, they both lost market share compared to Q4 2020. Beeline was another online platform which experienced noticeable growth in Q1 2021. Samsung upgrade program, Galaxy Buds as a gift with the Galaxy S21 series flagship model purchase, and a smartphone exchange offer helped Beeline increase share.”


Our detailed report Russia Handset and Channel Share Analysis, Q1 2021’ is available for subscribing clients.

Feel free to contact us at press(at) for questions regarding our latest research and insights, and for press enquiries.


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in products in the TMT (technology, media and telecom) industry. It services major technology and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analyses of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are seasoned experts in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Soumen Mandal
The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

Tarun Pathak
The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

Counterpoint Research
The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

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Samsung Surpasses Huawei to Lead Russia Smartphone Market in Q3 2020

  • The share of online smartphone sales reached 34% during Q3 2020, breaking the previous quarter’s record.
  • Huawei led online channel sales with 27.8% market share.
  • M.Video-Eldorado led online platform sales, followed by Svyaznoy and MTS.

London, San Diego, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul – November 27, 2020

Smartphone sales grew 5% YoY while online smartphone sales saw more than two-fold growth in Russia in Q3 2020, according to the latest research by Counterpoint Research Model Sales Tracker. The share of online smartphone sales reached 34% during Q3 2020, breaking the previous quarter’s record of 32%. Social distancing, tightening of restrictions by the government and more offerings from entertainment players created momentum for a long-term shift from offline to online channels. Furthermore, less spending on vacation helped people upgrade their devices.

Russia smartphone sales Q3 2020 CounterpointCommenting on the market dynamics, Associate Director Tarun Pathak said, “Again, M.Video-Eldorado led the online smartphone platform market share during this quarter. However, the market share of M.Video-Eldorado has decreased from 35% in Q2 2020 to 33% in Q3 2020. The other online platforms, like Beeline, Megafon and Citilink, improved their market share during this quarter due to the presence of more popular smartphone models and the availability of some smaller brands like Philips, Digma, Bright & Quick, Haier and Ark. Promotional campaigns like a gift of 99 rubles per month in the ‘Super’ package of MTS TV services on any purchase till August 31, 2020, additional cashback on first purchase, and availability of more smartphone models on the online platform helped MTS increase its market share during the quarter.”

Pathak added, “The average smartphone price dropped by 5% YoY to reach $224 in Q3 2020. In terms of revenue, Samsung is leading both offline and online platforms, followed by Apple and Huawei. The Samsung Galaxy A51, Samsung Galaxy A31 and Apple iPhone 11 are the top-selling smartphones on online platforms while the Samsung Galaxy A51, Redmi Note 8T and Samsung Galaxy A31 are the best-selling models on offline platforms. Some small brands like Black Fox and Senseit have joined online platforms while brands like Dexp and Ginzzu are still relying on offline platforms.”

Russia Smartphone Channel Share - Counterpoint

Commenting on brand performance, Research Associate Soumen Mandal said, “Samsung regained its No. 1 position in the Russian smartphone market by surpassing Huawei during this quarter. Supply shortages affected Huawei’s overall sales, but it still managed to lead online channel sales with 27.8% market share. After the restoration of normalcy in retail store operations, Samsung went back to depending on offline sales, which caused a decrease in its market share for online sales. Honor had the highest share of online sales of 5G models, driven by the Honor 30 series where cash coupons are being offered to push sales. Xiaomi overtook Samsung to hold the second position in online smartphone sales. Among the top 10 online smartphone models, five are from Xiaomi. The Redmi Note 8 Pro, Redmi 8A and Redmi Note 9 are the top three models from Xiaomi on online platforms. For the first time, realme has cracked into top five online smartphone brands, supported by the launch of new models like the realme C11, realme C15 and realme X3 Super Zoom, and good performance of existing models like the realme 6 Pro and realme C3.”

Russia Smartphone Channel Share Counterpoint

Mandal added, “The smartphone market is changing dynamically during 2020 due to COVID-19 and some political decisions. Xiaomi has started opening retails stores, which is expected to further increase its market share. The flagship models from Apple and Samsung are also getting attention in Russia. Credit and trade-in programs are making flagship models more affordable. However, the Chinese brands are strengthening their position in the lower and middle price segments.”


Counterpoint Technology Market Research is a global research firm specializing in Technology products in the TMT industry. It services major technology firms and financial firms with a mix of monthly reports, customized projects and detailed analysis of the mobile and technology markets. Its key analysts are experts in the industry with an average tenure of 13 years in the high-tech industry.

Analyst Contacts:

Soumen Mandal
The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

Tarun Pathak
The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

Counterpoint Research
The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

Related Posts

Russia Online Smartphone Sales Highest Ever in Q2 2020

  • M.Video-Eldorado led online smartphone sales with a 35% market share during Q2 2020
  • Total online smartphone market share reached its highest ever with 32% in Q2 2020
  • Huawei, including Honor, led online platform sales, followed by Samsung and Xiaomi

San Diego, Buenos Aires, London, New Delhi, Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul – August 18, 2020

Online smartphone sales in Russia grew by more than 56% YoY during Q2 2020, according to the latest research by Counterpoint Research Model Sales Tracker June 2020. The total online smartphone market share reached its highest ever at 32% during Q2 2020. The increase in online channel sales is due to the shift in consumer behaviour, upgrade of devices to work from home smoothly and the availability of popular smartphones on online platforms. After the restoration of normalcy in retail operations, online smartphone sales will stabilize while competition will increase among online smartphone platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the Russian smartphone market. After seeing a record decline in April, it bounced back in May. Top five smartphone brands — Huawei, Samsung, Xiaomi, Apple and OPPO — accounted for 86% of the total smartphone market during this quarter.

Commenting on the market dynamics, Research Associate Soumen Mandal said: “M.Video-Eldorado and Svyaznoy are leading players among online smartphone platforms while Citilink, Megafone, Beeline, MTS and DNS are emerging players. More than one-third of smartphone sales happened on the M.Video-Eldorado platform during Q2 2020. The balanced operation between online and offline platforms and promotional activities helped M.Video-Eldorado to maintain a dominating position in online channel sales. Contactless online delivery through Yandex.Taxi, Gett Delivery or local partners helped it cover 90% of people under its next-day delivery. Besides, dark store automation, partnerships with Ozon and X5 Retail Group, and the shifting advertising focus towards online business accelerated online smartphone sales on the M.Video-Eldorado platform.”

Mandal added: “Small players like Black Fox, CAT, Ginzzu, Dexp and Coolpad are still relying on offline channel sales. Among the top five smartphone players, Apple is the most dependent (74%) on offline channel sales. The average cost of a smartphone purchased from an online channel increased by 15% to reach $210 during Q2 2020 compared to $182 in Q2 2019. This also shows the recovery of Russian economy from the global pandemic. On offline platforms, the best-selling models are the Samsung Galaxy A51, Honor 8A, Apple iPhone 11, Samsung Galaxy A10 and the Samsung Galaxy A30s. Apple leads in total revenue during this quarter, but it slipped to the second position after Samsung in online channel revenue.”

Exhibit 1: Russia Online Smartphone Market Share by Channel – Q2 2020

Counterpoint Russia Smartphone Channel Share Q2 2020


Commenting on brand performance, Associate Director Tarun Pathak said: “Huawei remained the market leader in online channel sales with 35% market share. Samsung Galaxy A51 was the top model for online channel sales, followed by the Honor 8A, Honor 20 Lite, Honor 10i and the Apple iPhone 11. Xiaomi took the third position in online channel sales after Huawei and Samsung but was second after Huawei in terms of online share of total brand sales. Online market share at the end of 2019 stood at 15.7% only. We believe COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst to change consumer behaviour in Russia. However, people still prefer cash on delivery for online smartphone sales. The penetration of online channel sales will increase in the future with the adoption of digital payment systems.”

Pathak added: “The growth of premium smartphones like the Apple iPhone 11 and iPhone SE 2020 on online channels was noticeable due to change in the Ruble exchange rate and the desire of consumers to upgrade their old devices. Moreover, the decreasing spend on vacations allowed Russian consumers to upgrade their existing devices. Premium brands like Apple may face problems in coming times if the Russian government implements its decision for mandatory installation of Russian-made software on a smartphone from January 1, 2021.”

Exhibit 2: Russia Online Smartphone Top Brands Share – Q2 2020

Counterpoint Russia Online Smartphone Market by Brands Q2 2020


Analyst Contacts:

Soumen Mandal

The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

Tarun Pathak

The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

Counterpoint Research


The Branding Source: New logo: Twitter

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