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September 17, 2012 11:43

MTS aims to double share of mobile Internet users among its customers by 2014

MOSCOW. Sept 17 (Interfax) - Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) (RTS: MTSS), one of Russia's leading mobile service providers, plans to double the share of mobile Internet users among its subscribers by 2014, company spokesperson Valeria Kuzmenko told Interfax.

About 37% of MTS' customers used mobile data services as of the end of the second quarter, she said. MTS has a subscriber base of 69.6 million in Russia.

Data services generated 7.8 billion rubles of the company's revenues from its mobile business in Russia in the second quarter, up by 35%. Revenues from mobile data services are growing across the whole market. Rival operator Megafon (RTS: MEGF) reported that is revenues from data services grew 27.5% to 7.9 billion rubles in the second quarter, while Vimpelcom increased quarterly mobile data revenues by 35% to 5.6 billion rubles.

Internet access is the main driver of growth in the mobile business, Vimpelcom spokesperson Anna Aibasheva said. She said the company is interested in both growing the number of subscribers using mobile Internet services, and increasing revenues from this segment of its business. She did not specify Vimpelcom's forecast for growth of the share of mobile Internet users.

Russia's 'big three' operators are encouraging Internet use with price offers and promotions, and are working on increasing the proportion of smart phones used by their customers. Megafon expects explosive growth of smart phone penetration in Russia, the company's deputy chief executive, Mikhail Dubin said recently. Smart phone penetration in Russia is currently about 20%, while in developed markets the figure is already approaching 50%, he said.

Among MTS subscribers, smart phone penetration is also at about 20%, the company said recently. Smart phones accounted for 27% of the mobile phones sold in Russia in the second quarter, up from 18% a year earlier, MTS estimates.

Russia had the largest Internet audience in Russia at the beginning of 2012, totalling 70 million people, according to the Communications Ministry, and it is continuing to grow. A survey conducting by the VTsIOM public opinion research center on March 31-April 1 showed that 58% of Russians use the Internet, up from 53% a year earlier; 38% (46 million) of users use the Internet daily, 13% use it at least once a week, 5% at least once a month and 2% at least once every six months.


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