The Russian Ministry for Communications and Informatisation (Minsvyaz) has issued the country’s first domestic long-distance (DLD) and international telephony licence to a private company, officially ending state-owned Rostelecom’s monopoly on the market. Centerinfocom, a company formed earlier this year by five of Moscow’s regional operators, was handed a concession last week. It is one of four groups to have applied for licences, the others being major players Golden Telecom, AFK Sistema’s Interregional TransitTelecom (MTT) and Transtelecom, a subsidiary of the state owned Russian Railways company. Minsvyaz has yet to grant the three established players concessions, saying that ‘similar requests from other bidders will be considered soon’. 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 in the near future. Russia is opening up the market as part of its efforts to join the World Trade Organisation.