According to Telecompaper, Russian mobile giant MegaFon has reported that its subscriber base has reached 800,000 in the Republic of Chechnya, making it the leading operator in the region in terms of subscriber numbers. The report adds that MegaFon has now deployed around 500 GSM 900/1800 base stations in the stricken region, which reverted to Russian federal control during the second Chechen war, which commenced in August 1999.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in February 2003 MegaFon became the first national cellular operator to launch services in Chechnya; before its arrival the war-torn region was practically devoid of telecommunications infrastructure. However, the cellco’s presence in the troubled region has not been without incident. In March 2006 Chechnya’s prime minister Ramzan Kadyrov warned that if MegaFon did not improve its service quality and lower its tariffs within two weeks, the regional government would force it to cease operations and replace it with another mobile operator. Later, in August 2006 terrorists blew up five MegaFon base stations in a politically-motivated attack.