The Russian cellular phone market grew by 121% in 2002, with the number of subscribers increasing from 8.04 million at the end of 2001 to 17.8 million at the end of 2002. Market penetration more than doubled, with 12.4% of the Russian population owning a mobile phone by the end of 2002. These figures were supplied by J'son & Partners and Sotovik, Moscow-based companies offering analysis of the cellular phone market in Russia. Much of the increase in subscribers was due to regional expansion by the country's three largest networks: MTS, MegaFon, and VimpelCom. With a population of 143 million, Russia still has enormous pent-up demand for mobile phone services and expansion is set to continue.
J'son & Partners and Sotovik predict that 2003 will see continued triple-digit growth in the number of mobile phone subscribers in Russia's regions. Billing systems will evolve to become more important in wooing customers, and value-added services, such as 2.5G+ and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), will take off in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other large Russian cities.
J'son & Partners and Sotovik have been providing online and offline analysis of the Russian cellular phone market since 1996.