Agro-stations Stake on Cellulars

Many villagers will be able to use mobile communication services without leaving their settlements this year
Earlier, a cellular was just like a miracle in any village, but now everyone can drop in at a local post office to subscribe to mobile services. The first dealership offering services of two (of Belarus’ four) operators has opened at the post office in the agro-station Staro-Borisov in the Minsk Region. Dealerships of the kind will soon appear in all 249 agro-stations that will be completed by the end of the year.

“Just get to the window, and I’ll tell you everything,” the head of the Staro-Borisov post office, Raisa Polonik, welcomes visitors and participants in a seminar organized by the Communication Ministry to address village restoration issues. “I am sure there will be many clients: we service three villages with more than 2,000 residents, and townspeople also often visit us.

These are convenient and quality services, so there will always be clients. We started accepting payments from the single client’s account, and the number of subscribers quadrupled! A villager may pay for gas, water, power, telephone in the same window, so we offer the same services as in any large city!”

According to Communication and IT Minister Vladimir Goncharenko, the village restoration program added tasks to already tight development plans of the mobile operators. Installation of telephones will be completed by 2011, and at least two mobile operators will work in each agro-station. Post offices, and there are 3,800 of them, will be able to act as dealerships. It will be convenient for people and provide additional revenues for post offices. We started this work in mid-2004, but the results are still modest: only 5% of all post offices have turned into dealerships, and only 30 operate now.

Until recently they could subscribe you to only one operator. One of the reasons is the requirements of mobile operators, which want good equipment, advertisement and quality of services to promote their brands. A dealership costs five to seven million Belarusian rubles. On the other hand, these expenses pay back very fast. The mobile communication market is developing as never before, and the number of subscribers, which hit the 4-million limit, is the best example, the minister said. He urged postal workers to intensify cooperation with mobile operators, which are eager to train personnel.

“The key task is to provide the services that are now available only in large cities to everyone even in smaller villages,” said Nina Gavrilova, the deputy communication and IT minister. Post offices provide about 40 unconventional services, from delivering goods from catalogues to Xeroxing. The cooperation with mobile operators may prove very profitable, she believes.

by Irina Kharitonova
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