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Fixed-mobile substitution a long way off in Belarus

22 февраля 2008

Belarus-based mobile operator Velcom recently revealed that the majority of its customers have no plans to unsubscribe from their fixed-line services and make calls solely using their mobile phones.

Just 4% of Velcom's subscribers plan to use only their mobile phone, according to a recent survey commissioned by Velcom parent Mobilkom Austria, while only a further 7% said they could foresee ending their fixed-line subscription at some point in the future.

The last figure is the lowest across Mobilkom
austria's operations, all of which, with the exception of Liechtenstein, were included in the survey.

The highest score came from
Slovenia, where over half of mobilkom subsidiary Si.mobil's customers either have existing plans to switch wholly from fixed to mobile services, foresee doing this in future.

"We're still very young in
Belarus," said Boris Nemsic, CEO of Mobilkom Austria, speaking at a press event last week.

He said that in mobilkom
austria's home market, fixed-line penetration is in decline.

"We were at 100%, but now we are going back the other way and we're now at 73%," he said.

In October 2007 Mobilkom
austria paid €730 million for a 70% stake in Belarusian mobile player MDC, which at the time had 2.7 million customers and a 42% share of the mobile market.

Since then, the operator has been re-branded Velcom, has increased its subscriber base to over 3 million and raised its market share to 43%.

Furthermore, the operator claims it now leads the market in terms of its share of total revenues generated by the mobile sector.

Helmut Duhs, CEO and CFO of Velcom gave his insight into the growing Belarusian economy.

Belarus we have widespread urbanisation, with 71% of the population living in big cities, GDP has grown 10% over the last four years, there is no unemployment and 80% of the country is educated to university standard," he said.

"This makes
Belarus a very interesting economy," commented Duhs.

Even so, Velcom faces some interesting challenges in the Belarusian mobile market.

"The average price per minute is the lowest in the whole of the mobilkom group, but the usage is one of the highest," said Duhs.

"What's more, all of our rivals are state-owned, making the regulator practically a shareholder in those companies, which means we have some interesting discussions with them," he said.

Источник: Total Telecom

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