Universal Mobile Systems (UMS), a 49.99/50.01 joint venture between Russia’s Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) and the Uzbek state, has signed up 188,100 subscribers since relaunching on 1 December 2014. The cellco registered turnover of just USD1.9 million in Q4 2014, leading to negative OIBDA of USD11.9 million and a net operating loss of USD17 million.
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, MTS resurrected its Uzbek division in mid-2014 after its previous operation there was closed down by the state in 2012, under circumstances widely believed to indicate a government-backed shakedown. UMS uses the equipment and infrastructure of the defunct MTS Uzbekistan (also referred to locally as Uzdunrobita, the operator’s brand name under a previous owner), and was issued with new 2G/3G/4G concessions and frequencies in H2 2014. Prior to its closure, MTS was the nation’s largest cellco by subscribers, representing more than nine million users with a market share of 37.5%.