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Effendi (Offline)
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Default 23-01-2006, 08:51

PRESS: Russia's MegaFon to start operation in Kyrgyzstan in Feb

MOSCOW, Jan 20 (Prime-Tass) -- Russia?s third largest mobile operator MegaFon plans to start operations in Kyrgyzstan, Ishenbek Sadykov, a spokesperson of the Kyrgyz government administration said, Vedomosti business daily reported Friday.

The launch of the Megakom brand is scheduled for February 20, a source close to the project said.

Marina Belasheva, MegaFon's press secretary, said that Kyrgyz company Bimokom, which holds a GSM license, asked MegaFon to share its experience and the two companies signed an agreement in August 2005. "We offer consulting services but we are interested in business development," Belasheva told the newspaper. She did not provide information on what stake in the project MegaFon will have.

At the moment, there is only one GSM mobile operator in Kyrgyzstan, Bitel, one CDMA operator, Aktel, and one AMPS operator, Katel. Bitel controls about 90% of the market.

Recently Bitel was bought by Russia's largest mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), owned by holding AFK Sistema, for U.S. $150 million in late 2005, but a Kyrgyz court later ruled that little-known Rezervspetsmet company is the rightful owner of Bitel. Rezervspetsmet is widely believed to be incorporated by Russia's Alfa Group.

Representatives of Sistema have said that they hope MTS is found the owner of Bitel, adding that even if they lose the fight over the leading Kyrgyz mobile operator, they may still enter the market by purchasing fixed-line monopoly Kyrgyztelecom, the newspaper reported. Sadykov said that the government is currently preparing to sell its 89% stake in Kyrgyztelecom, which also has a GSM license.

Mobile penetration in Kyrgyzstan amounts to 10%. The country's population stands at 5.1 million people.


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