Tele2 Russia, which expanded its commercial 3G/4G mobile services to Moscow as scheduled on 22 October 2015, signed up 116,000 customers in the capital city and the surrounding Moscow Region in the first four days of operations there, Telecom Daily reports. Tele2, which is part-owned by Rostelecom, also signed agreements with 50 corporate entities in Moscow in the four-day period, the report said, whilst a Russian analyst quoted by the publication forecast that the cellco – fourth in the nationwide market behind Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), MegaFon and Vimpelcom (Beeline) – will attract more than half a million customers in the city and region in its first month, while by the end of 2015 it will have taken more than 3% of the regional subscriber market. Telecom Daily projected that Tele2 could take 20% of the Moscow market in three years.
Tele2 is shaking up a cellular market previously sewn up by the ‘big three’ operators mainly through offering low-budget, simple, value-for-money services. Although a direct competitive response is yet to be seen from the more-established trio, Beeline Russia notably this week introduced an eye-catching promotion giving its customers unlimited access to over-the-top (OTT) messaging service WhatsApp, initially until mid-January 2016, with a guarantee of zero mobile data charges for WhatsApp usage. The promotion joins other ‘zero rating’ offers already in place for Beeline users, who can also sign up for packages which attract no mobile data charges for using Wikipedia or social media mobile sites such as Facebook.