Comments made by Senior Associate Evgeny Zverev to an article titled “Rapid mobilization”

28 April 2010

According to experts, the number of mobile Internet subscribers in St.- Petersburg and Leningrad region shall reach 1 million people by the end of this year. It took over 7 years for mass market of fixed Internet access to achieve such result, while mobile operators managed to do it in three years.

As of April 1, 2010, St-Petersburg and Leningrad region had near 790 thousand mobile Internet users connected to “The Big Three” of providers, as well as to CDMA operator SkyLink and mobile WiMAX network Yota.

According to TelecomDaily, by the beginning of April 260 thousand modems to be operated in Megaphon network, 180 thousand modems to be operated in Beeline network, 140 thousand modems to be operated in MTS network, 120 thousand modems to be operated in SkyLink network and 90 to be operated in Yota network were sold within the city and the region. Information on purchased modems also contains rather precise data as to the number of mobile Internet subscribers in each of these networks.

Unlimited access without add-ons is offered by Yota alone. Commercial exploitation of the network at St.-Petersburg started less than one year ago, and according to operator’s representatives, the network is covering the whole city at this date. Although Yota was meant only for data traffic, it is prone to the same issues as cellular networks focused on voice traffic. With actively downloading subscribers becoming more numerous, network traffic speed starts to drop. Yota network exploitation test carried out in the south Russian cities has shown that a mobile Internet subscriber shall use about 11Gb of traffic per month in the absence of limitations.

Unlimited tariff offered by Yota is priced 900 roubles per month, i. e. approximately twice as much as the price of 5-6 Mbps in fixed access networks based on FTTB technology and three times as much as tariffs offered by ADSL-providers in St.-Petersburg. That being said, Yota sells universal Internet access, meant for users who access Internet while being indoor (home or at work), as well as outdoor. For those who do not need to access Internet by mobile phone on a day-to-day basis, a daily tariff is provided priced at 50 roubles per day.

MTS, Beeline, Megaphone and SkyLink have carried out some tremendous work in the space of a year, by rewriting and specifying mobile Internet tariffs. As a result, the St.-Petersburg market got conditional unlimited net access priced from 195 rubles/month (each company established its own monthly traffic limit. Exceeding the limit shall result in slowdown) and supplementary traffic packages of 1—2 Gb, which can be purchased to avoid slowdown. Now a subscriber of “The Big Three” may expect to get a medium data rate of 1 Mbps within the city territory in stationary position. All of the above four operators, including SkyLink, have provided special prices for Internet access at night time when network loading are at a minimum.

“Last year growth rates of mobile Internet connection already exceeded those reached by wired networks. In 2010 the number of mobile broadband Internet subscribers will grow 2.5—3 times as fast”, — noted Denis Kuskov, Director General of TelecomDaily. As he said, mobile Internet in the Leningrad region already really competes with fixed Internet. Mobile Internet prices quoted in the majority of tariffs of Leningrad region providers are equal to those of city providers, while service terms of wired network providers in the Leningrad region are not to be compared with those of St.-Petersburg providers, be it the speed, or the price.

Selling of content still remains an undeveloped business line for mobile Internet. Popularity of local networks based on data transmission from computer of one user to computer of another (DC +, torrent-trackers) still makes it difficult for operators in wired networks to sell their own content. Technically, Internet providers cannot be accused of distribution of a pirated content since this activity makes them incur losses. According to Evgeny Zverev, Senior Associate in the law firm S&K Vertical, the legislation does not oblige persons providing access to technology of filesharing to hold users to disclose any extra information, in particular information regarding content.

РБК daily

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