New Azerbaijani mobile operator, Azerphone, is planning to launch commercial services by August, according to a report carried by local online news agency Trend. Azerphone was awarded its wireless licence by the Communication Ministry on 28 December 2005. It is owned by fixed line incumbent Aztelekom (10%), Siemens (30%) and two unnamed British companies (60%). The company aims to provide coverage of 85% of the population and anticipates spending USD300 million on network infrastructure.
Meanwhile rival cellco Azercell Telecom is reportedly being valued, with a view to its future privatisation. Azercell is 64.3% owned by Azertel and 35.7% by the Communications Ministry. Azertel is itself owned by Fintur (79.78%) and the privately owned Turkish telecommunications dealer chain Cenay Insaat (20.22%). Fintur is a joint venture between TeliaSonera (58.55%) and Turkcell. In March 2004 the government first revealed plans to sell its stake in Azercell, but plans for the actual disposal have been slow to get off the ground. Reports in the local press suggest that the government’s stake is likely to be acquired by Fintur.