Four companies have applied for domestic long-distance (DLD) telephony licences ahead of Russia’s WTO-compliant opening up of the sector, and numerous others are mulling entering the soon-to-be liberalised market, according to local news sources. Major players Golden Telecom, Interregional TransitTelecom (MTT) and Transtelecom have all applied to the Ministry for Communications and Informatisation (Minsvyaz) for concessions, as has start-up telco Centerinfocom, a company formed earlier this year by as many as 20 of Moscow’s local operators. Meanwhile backhaul operator Equant Russia, and regional operators including Omskaya Sotovaya Svyaz (OCC) and Zebra Telecom are all reported to be seeking partners with the aim of applying for licences later this month. Russian Telecoms minister Leonid Reiman recently confirmed that prospective DLD operators, which will break Rostelecom’s monopoly in the sector, will have to pay around USD40,000 for concessions to provide services nationwide. Minsvayaz has yet to confirm a timetable for issuing the licences, but has promised to make the concessions available to ‘a wide range of companies… without any serious restrictions’.