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Mobile TeleSystems, VimpelCom and MegaFon bid for 3G

Russian wireless companies led by OAO Mobile TeleSystems, OAO VimpelCom and OAO MegaFon will bid for licenses to offer faster mobile-phone services such as video-conferences and mobile television.

The three largest mobile-phone operators in Russia have applied for the so-called third generation permits, company representatives said by telephone today. The winners for the licenses will be announced in April. Russia counts more than 152 million mobile-phone subscribers, almost 10 million more than the country's population.
Russian cellular operators are looking to find new sources of revenue to sustain growth in the saturated market. „3G will allow us to start a considerable number of new additional services and increase our network capacity,” Irina Osadchaya, a spokeswoman for OAO Mobile TeleSystems, eastern Europe's largest operator, said in a telephone interview today. Moscow-based OOO Summa Telecom also plans to bid for a license today, spokesman Igor Ryabov said by phone without elaborating.
The company, which builds networks for large Russian businesses, is controlled by oil businessman Ziyavudin Magomedov. OAO VimpelCom, Russia's second-largest operator, will invest up to $350 million in the 3G network this and next year, spokeswoman Yelena Prokhorova, said by phone from Moscow today. The company expects that about 12 million customers will use VimpelCom's 3G services by end of 2014, she said.

Mobile TeleSystems and OAO MegaFon, Russia's third-largest mobile-phone operator, do not plan to construct so-called 3G networks covering the whole of Russia. „3G is an expensive toy, therefore the services will be offered only in large cities,” said Marina Belasheva, a spokeswoman for MegaFon.
Companies that had also requested the bidding documentation included Tele2 AB, Sweden's second-largest phone company, Samara-Russia-based Smarts Group and OOO Komtel Plus, said Pavel Morozov, a spokesman for the Federal Communications Agency. (Bloomberg)