Russia Leads Mobile Subs for Region

The fastest talkers seem to be coming from Central and Eastern Europe, as a Baskerville report indicates that the region is adding wireless subscribers at an impressive rate.

Surpassing the 100 million mark during October 2003, the locale has added 22.5 million subscribers (or 29 percent growth) since the beginning of the year, and has doubled subscriptions since December 2001. The research firm expects Central and Eastern Europe to reach 139 million mobile subscribers in 2005, and 174 million by 2008, when annual growth will be running at 3.16 percent and penetration will stand at 51.6 percent.

Russia alone accounts for over 32 million subscribers, overtaking Poland as the largest market in Central and Eastern Europe by 14 million subscribers. Mobile phone provider Nokia forecasts Russian mobile users to exceed 60 million by 2008, and The Yankee Group found that more Russians purchased mobile phones in 2002 than the previous eight years combined, with Moscow leading the way.

Russian Mobile Market Growth
  2001 2002 Change
Mobile users 8,123,827 18,253,100 125%
Market revenue $2.309 million $3.345 million 45%
Average monthly revenue per user $30.17 $21.13 -30%
Source: United Nations Statistics Division and The Yankee Group, 2003

Yankee Group’s assessment of Russia’s dominant mobile operators found that Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is the larger of the two, with 6.6 million mobile users at the end of 2002, representing a national market share of 36 percent, while Vimpel Communications trailed with 5.1 million users and a 28 percent share. Smaller operators, such as MegaFon and Sweden-based Tele2, accounted for the remainder.

Baskerville’s research further indicated that Central and Eastern Europe currently accouned for 7.7 percent of the world’s total mobile subscribers — compared with 26.9 percent for Western Europe and 39.2 percent for Asia Pacific.

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