In May, the number of mobile phone subscribers in Russia rose 6.8% to 23.74 million. Overall penetration in Russia reached 16.4% of the population. Gross additions in May were 1.51 million subscribers, with MTS remaining the leader in terms of new additions.
The Far-East, which has a population of 11.4 million, continues to have the lowest level of cellular penetration in Russia, now only 5.5%. Although the region is quite attractive due the relatively high income of the population, there are a number of market barriers. These include a small and declining population and difficult technical conditions. Towns in the region are separated by large distances and the geography and climate are inhospitable. Nevertheless, in 2002, the subscriber base in the Far-East grew 122%. It is expected to expand even faster once the big three operators (MTS, MegaFon, and VimpelCom) enter the market and increase competition.
The market statistics were supplied by J'son & Partners and Sotovik, Moscow-based analysts of the Russian cellular market.