SkyLink Personal Communications, a cellular operator in the Moscow Licensed Area (MLA) which is owned by AFK Sistema and TelecomInvest, says it has shut down the CDMA network of its Personal Communications unit, which operates under the Sonet brand, and invited subscribers to switch to its own-brand CDMA and NMT standards. According to Raissa Rozinova, the general director of SkyLink and Moscow Cellular Communications (MCC), Sonet clients can migrate to a SkyLink network with preferential terms until 25 April, and port across their existing number. Sonet’s demise is part of a wider re-branding of the parent company following the merger of certain telecoms assets of AFK Sistema and TelecomInvest. Personal Communications, Delta Telecom and MCC are being integrated into SkyLink.
According to Ms Rozinova, SkyLink is now migrating around 10,000 clients a month, compared with 3,000 to 5,000 before January 2005. In addition, the director said that the enlarged SkyLink was signing up around 5,000 new subscribers a month. At 15 September 2004 Sonet numbered around 84,000 subscribers whose average monthly revenue per user (ARPU) stood at USD63 compared with SkyLink’s USD66. Typical Sonet users are ‘technically advanced, mostly male, and relatively young business people who have high requirements for mobile services’. Rozinova added that SkyLink is upgrading its network in 2005 to accommodate an upturn in demand for data transmission. The cellco is doubling its number of base stations in the MLA from the current figure of 205, and increasing the number of retail outlets from 283 to 500.
At the end of 2005 MCC’s licence to provide NMT services in the MLA is set to expire. Rozinova says that SkyLink is ready to offer MCC similar preferential deals to switch their service to its CDMA platform.