More than 1.5 million Belarusians became subscribers of mobile communication services in Belarus last year, around 138,000 people every month. In 2004, the subscriber base hiked 120%, or by 1.32 million people. “The market is close to saturation, which is why the increase was slower last year. Everyone who wished to own a cell phone has already bought one, they are for the most part able-bodied citizens and young people,” the deputy communication minister, Ivan Rak, believes. Mobile penetration in Belarus is estimated at 42%, which means four out of ten Belarusians use mobile phones. The ratio is much higher in larger cities, especially Minsk. The capacity of the mobile communication market is between 5 million and 5.5 million people.
Ivan Rak believes the mobile operators will soon compete not only for the number of subscribers but also for such indicators as value-added service and average revenue per user.
Operators also perform certain social functions, as demanded by the state authorities, one of the major targets being the village revival program and coverage of agro-stations.
The subscriber base of Belarusian-Russian MTS rose faster than that of the remaining operators in 2005, same as in 2004. The number of clients increased 74%, or by 896,000, to 2.11 million active subscribers. MTS’ services are available on 57% of Belarus’ territory with over 90% of Belarus’ population.
Mobile Digital Communication (MDC, which operates under the brand name of Velcom), increased its subscriber base by 750,000 clients to bring the total to 1.885 million. In December, the operator managed to attract 125,000 new clients. Velcom covers 63% of Belarus’ territory with 99% of this country’s population.
The remaining operators, BelCEL, which works under the Diallog and NMT brands, and Byelorusskaya Syet Telekommunikatsiy, or BeST, which launched its GSM services in December, do not influence the market much. Diallog had 97,000 clients as of early this year, a rise by 12,000 in 2005. BeST’s subscriber base is still insignificant.