(Civil) - Russia's VimpelCom will launch a mobile phone operation in Georgia in a few months under the brand name Mobitel, the company's top executive said on January 23.
We are currently working out our tariff policy. We are currently negotiating with fixed-line and cell operator companies as part of this process, the Georgian daily 24 Saati (24 Hours) quoted Mobitel General-Director Roman Kalinin as saying at a news conference.
Mobitel will be the third mobile phone operator in Georgia, with Geocell and MagtiCom already operating in the country's market with 55% and 45% market share, respectively, according to VimpelCom, reports Trend.
As international practice has shown, the emergence of a third mobile operator company... significantly changes the situation on the market," Sergey Avdeev, executive vice-president of VimpelCom, said.
24 Saati writes on January 24 that although the new mobile operator will hardly challenge the leadership of Geocell and MagtiCom, the two veteran companies on the Georgian market should get ready for a decrease in their number of customers after Mobitel goes into operation.
The newspaper also predicts that the emergence of the new operator will lead to falling tariffs for mobile phone users.
VimpelCom bought 51% of Georgian cellular operator Mobitel for USD 12.6 million in July 2006. Mobitel, which was founded in 2003 but has never conducted any operations, owns the GSM-1800 cellular license.
In October, 2006 VimpelCom contracted Alcatel to supply Mobitel with GSM/GPRS/EDGE end-to-end solutions to launch a mobile telecommunications network throughout Georgia.
Revenues of the mobile phone operator companies in Georgia increased by GEL 70 million and reached GEL 425 million (USD 337,4 million) in 2005, according to the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC). The number of mobile phone users has exceeded one million for the first time in Georgia, and reached 1.174 million in 2005. The GNCC has not yet unveiled 2006 data.