Mobile service totals 13.67 million users at end of March

At the end of the March 2008 there were 13.67 million Mobile Telephone Service subscribers, a 1.6% increase in the total number of subscribers compared to the previous quarter and a 10.3% increase compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Of the total, 75.5% are holders of pre-paid cards - 10.328 million - while holders of subscription plans totalled 3.345 million, 24.5% of the total.

The significant growth of post-paid cards, which emerged some years ago, has accelerated over the last 5 quarters and, in particular, over the last 2 quarters (the rate of year-on-year growth now being reported is almost double that seen in the first quarter of 2007). This trend is associated with the sign up of subscribers to UMTS based data services which, typically, involve the payment of a monthly charge.

At the end of March, the penetration rate of this service had risen to 129 per 100 inhabitants.

Interpretation of the figures given for MTS subscribers and penetration rate should take account of the fact that there are users who have more than one card for accessing the service - it is estimated that around 15.5% of users had 2 active cards, while 4.2% had 3 or more cards. Furthermore there are SIM cards used exclusively for Internet access and data services; cards used in machines, equipment and cards for corporate use.

In the first quarter the number of users with access to UMTS services surpassed 3.4 million. The number of active users totalled 929 thousand, up 6.8% on the previous quarter. Year-on-year the number of active users of UMTS services has risen by 110.8%. The potential users of UMTS services represent 25% of the total number of MTS subscribers, while active users constitute 6.8% of mobile subscribers.

The UMTS penetration rate at the end of March stood at 32.2 per 100 inhabitants.

In terms of traffic in the first quarter, around 1.76 billion calls were made, 3.2% less than in the previous quarter. This drop in traffic compared to the previous quarter is explained by seasonal factors. In comparison to the first quarter of 2007, there was an increase of 4.9% in the number of calls, a rate that is slightly lower than the average rate of growth seen in the previous year and is significantly lower than the annual rate of growth seen for the number of subscribers (10.3%). This trend is consistent with the hypothesis that a significant percentage of new subscribers is made of broadband internet users. Meanwhile, the groups of new subscribers (with a trend of a greater proportion of younger and older subscribers), will have below average income levels and probably consume less.

Over the same period, the number of calls received on the mobile network totalled around 1.758 billion, representing a fall of 3.6% over the previous quarter but an increase of 4.3% over the first quarter of 2007.

Intra-network calls represented 76% of the total.

The number of conversation minutes originating on mobile networks totalled 3.4 billion minutes, a fall of 1.2% over the previous quarter. Compared to the same period of the previous year, the number of minutes rose by 8%. The number of minutes terminated in mobile networks totalled over 3.5 billion minutes.

In the first quarter subscribers made, on average, 43 calls each month, 2 less than during the same quarter of 2007. Around 29 of the calls made were within the caller's own network.

The average time of conversation per subscriber contracted, standing at around 85 minutes per month - 2 minutes less than in the previous quarter.

During the period being reported there was another increase in the number of written messages sent (+6.5%), to 5.4 billion. The average number of messages sent per subscriber reached 132 per month, an average of over 4 messages per day.

With respect to MMS, users sent around 15.6 million, 44.4% up on the previous period. Year-on-year the number of multimedia message sent by users of this service has grown by 26.1%.

During the same period, 880 thousand video-calls were made, an increase of 10.7% year-on-year. The conversation time associated with these calls rose by around 5% over the previous quarter.