According to a spokesperson for Ukrainian Radio Systems (URS), the GSM operator’s subscriber base more than doubled to 573,000 by the end of June, up from 256,849 at the start of the year, accounting for around 1.6% of the market, up from 0.85% at the end of March. Russian parent Vimpelcom relaunched URS under the BeeLine brand on 11 April 2006.
Elsewhere, URS and Ukraine’s smallest mobile operator Golden Telecom have announced the signing of a unilateral national roaming services agreement, which they claim is the first of its kind in the country. In April the National Commission for Communications Regulation (NCCR) issued Golden with a new 15-year GSM-1800 licence to offer services in 22 regions in addition to its existing networks in Kiev and Odessa, enabling it to cover approximately 81% of the population. However, the new agreement means Russian-based Golden, which is mainly focused on fixed line and converged services, does not have to invest a significant amount in expanding its mobile footprint. URS’ network currently covers 245 cities and more than 2,000 other residential areas, representing more than 50% population coverage, and work is continuing to increase coverage to 80% of the population by the end of 2006. The deal in Ukraine builds on previous collaborations between Vimpelcom and Golden Telecom in their home market. Golden’s owners include Russia’s Alfa Group (30%) and Norwegian telco Telenor (20%), which also hold stakes of 32.9% and 26.6% in Vimpelcom.