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MOSCOW, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Russia's second-biggest mobile phone operator Megafon said on Tuesday it and rival Vimpelcom had started to implement a joint project for the construction of mobile towers in 10 Russian regions.
Splitting the cost of construction and operation will accelerate the expansion of fourth-generation network coverage at a lower cost, Megafon said in a statement, adding the network would be launched in the third quarter of 2016.
Under the seven-year deal, which can be extended, the companies will deploy more than 1,300 LTE (Long Term Evolution)-enabled base stations, Megafon spokeswoman said.
The move is a further step by Russian mobile operators to cut infrastructure costs.
MTS , Russia's biggest mobile operator, and Vimpelcom signed a deal last December to share mobile spectrum in 20 Russian regions on top of their earlier infrastructure sharing agreement.
Megafon and Vimpelcom also plan to hive off their mobile towers in the future for potential sale. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Dmitry Solovyov)