3G goes live in Belarus

On Thursday, Telekom Austria’s Belarusian subsidiary Velcom announced the commercial launch of 3G HSPA+ in Minsk and Gomel.

As of today, Velcom will also offer a range of plans to accompany the service, most of which will be geared around data usage volumes. By the end of the year coverage will be extended to regional centres and big towns, Telekom Austria said.

The Austrian carrier has rolled out its 3G operation in less than three months having been granted the spectrum at the end of 2009.

Mobile operator Velcom, which is 70 per cent owned by Telekom Austria and 30 per cent by Cypriot firm Samauwi Brothers, was acquired when the Austria carrier expanded its operations into Belarus in 2007, paying €730m for the stake. The operator also has a put option agreement, which would allow it to buy the remaining 30 per cent stake in the fourth quarter of 2010 for approximately €320m.

The carrier markets its mobile services under the brand names “Velcom” for postpaid services and “Privet” for prepaid services and is the number two operator in Belarus with a market share of approximately 42 per cent and more than 4.1 million customers at the end of December 2009.

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