MTS blog


MVNO WITH X5 RETAIL GROUP

Monday, May 17, 2010
    

Last week we signed an agreement to create a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) using MTS’ network with the X5 Retail Group N.V., Russia’s largest retailer in terms of sales. X5 will offer its customers special tariffs that they can subscribe to at the Perekrestok and Karusel stores in Moscow and the Moscow region. It is expected that the launch will take place by the end of summer 2010. This is the second project that MTS has concluded as part of its efforts to expand its distribution channels. Previously, in May 2009, MTS partnered with Auchan, one of the world’s largest food retailers, enabling the company to offer its A-Mobile tariff plan through its stores in Russia.

MTS will dedicate a pool of available telephone numbers to the MVNO and provide X5 subscribers with a full package of mobile communications services, including voice communications and standard services such as roaming, mobile Internet, SMS and MMS. Using its own label, X5 will set the tariffs, attract and service subscribers and ensure in-store information support for the offering.
 
X5’s MVNO platform will be automatically linked to the loyalty bonus system of the Perekrestok and Karusel retail chains, enabling subscribers to exchange points accumulated under the loyalty bonus programs for mobile services. The MVNO will have its own website for customer information in addition to a dedicated call center.

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MTS LAUNCHES MONEY TRANSFER SERVICE

Thursday, April 15, 2010
We are launching an instant money transfer service using our retail network to provide customers with the ability to make money transfers in Russia and abroad. This will allow us to expand our service portfolio, as well as to attract more customers to our retail stores.

Currently, customers can transfer money after paying a commission that amounts to 1.6% of the total amount for intra-Russia transfers and 2% for transfers to the CIS. In the near future, the service will expand outside of the CIS to include transfers to such countries as Bulgaria, Germany, Israel, Spain, Italy, Canada, China, Poland, Vietnam, the UK and the USA. Customers can make use of the service at all MTS-owned stores in Russia - the current list of locations is available on our Russian-language website.

As our press secretary noted in an interview to a business newspaper RBC Daily, we are aiming to gain a 4% share of the instant money transfer market by the end of 2010. The market is estimated to be worth anywhere from $8.4 to $10 billion.

MTS partnered with Rapida Payment System to provide this service. Customers can collect transfers at any of the 18,000 Rapida locations around the world, including 3,500 spots in Russia and the CIS. There is no minimum amount for transfers, and the maximum amount is set at 150,000 rubles. Customers can only send money in rubles but may choose to receive it in other currencies such as US dollars or Euros, based on exchange rates of the location where the funds are retrieved. In addition, MTS is offering an SMS notification service, allowing the receiver to retrieve the transfer by showing his personal identification documents and the SMS with the transfer code.

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REPORT ON MOBILE RETAIL IN RUSSIA, Q1 2010

Friday, April 02, 2010

One of our major initiatives in 2009 was the rapid expansion of our mobile retail network and distribution of devices through it. As we have indicated in our Q4 and FY 2009 results presentation, we have sold over 2 million handsets through our network during 2009, gaining a market share of 11.7% by the end of the year (from just over 2% in Q1 2009).

Today we are issuing a report on mobile retail in Russia during Q1 2010, based on the estimates from our mobile retail network. You can download it here.

Highlights from the report:
- The Russian market for handsets grew to around 7.3 million units sold in Q1 2010, a 22% year-on-year growth
- Mobile handset market in Russia reached 33.4 bln rubles in sales in Q1 2010
- The average price of mobile phones on the market during Q1 2010 was 4,594 rubles, approximately 71% of devices sold through our stores were below 5,000
- The market share of MTS retail network grew to 13.8% in Q1 2010 from 11.7% in Q4 2009 (in unit sales)
- MTS-branded handset MTS 236 was the most popular device sold through the MTS retail network, accounting for 8.4% of total units sold

Please download the compete report here:

 Mobile retail report Q1 2010 

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MTS-BRANDED PHONES

Friday, February 12, 2010
          
MTS 835, 3G-enabled phone with a 2 megapixel camera and a 2.4 inch screen

We have been selling MTS-branded phones since the end of last year through our monobrand retail network in Russia. Currently, we have a total of four models on offer ranging from a basic model at 980 rubles* (or around $32**) - one of the most affordable in the market - to a 3G-enabled one at a very attractive price point  of 6,490 rubles (or around $215).
 
Lower-end phone models dominate in Russia, and we estimate that phones for under 5,000 rubles (around $165) accounted for over 35% of the market in 2009. This price point is attractive to customers who are buying their first phone, but also to those that want a phone for a second line or to use during vacation.

So far, we are quite pleased with the sales of MTS-branded phones. At the end of 2009, MTS was among the top five mobile phone brands, accounting for approximately 2% of the market in Q4’2009 (based on our estimates, in terms of sales of devices). During the months of November and December, MTS-branded phones accounted for 15% of phone sales through the MTS monobrand network. MTS-236, the entry-level model, was one of the 10 most popular models in December.

We have recently launched sales of MTS-236 in Armenia, and we are to planning to expand our branded device portfolio in our markets of operations going forward.

Additional information about our phones:
MTS-236 is an entry-level phone, one of the most affordable in the market, sold for 980 rubles (around $32). It offers basic calling capabilities with an attractive form factor.

MTS-733 is one of the cheapest 3G phones available in Russia, priced at 2,999 rubles (under $99), which is 4 times cheaper than the average 3G model in the market. This model has a 2 megapixel camera and 2 inch screen.

MTS-736 is a slider with a 2 inch screen and a 2 megapixel camera. It is sold for 4,490 rubles (around $148).

MTS-835 is the most advanced 3G model offered under our brand, featuring a 2.4 inch screen, a 2 megapixel main camera and a 0.3 megapixel front camera. The phone is priced at 6,490 rubles (around $215).

MTS-236 was developed by ZTE, and the other three phones are produced by Huawei. We are offering a 3-year warranty on our phones, if subscribers stay with MTS during that period.

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* The amounts quoted in this post refer to phone prices when bought with a new MTS tariff plan. Phones are unlocked and are available without the tariff for the following prices: MTS-236 for 1,050 rubles, MTS-733 for 3,490 rubles, MTS-736 for 4,990 rubles and MTS-835 for 6,990. While contract prices vary across the Russian regions, MTS-branded phones are uniformly priced across Russia.

** According to the Russian Central Bank exchange rate of 30.2462 RUB/USD as of February 11, 2010. Dollar amounts provided for reference only.

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‘STREAM’ VERSATILE BOX PRODUCT AVAILABLE AT MTS RETAIL CHAIN

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

MTS is pleased to announce that we launched the first MTS Comstar bundle offer – the STREAM Versatile Box product – through our retail stores in Moscow and Zelenograd, a Moscow suburb, in December 2009. This is one of the first steps of our previously announced Comstar integration plans following our acquisition of the company in October 2009.

The bundle includes a ZTE ZXDSL 831 A II modem that supports ADSL2+ technology and the IPTV service, a StreamWizard auto-configuration CD to help set the necessary Internet settings on the PC using the Plug-and-Play standard, and a scratch card with an authentication code to enable access to the Internet, as well as the user’s personal cabinet.

 

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NEW DEVICES AT MTS STORES

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

As we have discussed before on this blog, we believe that distribution of exclusive and innovative handsets through the MTS monobrand retail network is key to subscriber acquisition, usage growth and customer retention. For Russian consumers, the purchase of a handset is very much an emotional purchase that we see as being key in strengthening their ties with MTS in order to encourage more loyal behavior. By signing exclusive deals with leading device manufacturers, we will be able to drive greater customer traffic to MTS stores and gain competitive advantage over our peers. Selling handsets through MTS stores will also allow us to customize these phones and pre-install handset-specific software and applications to drive data and content usage.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have launched a number of new phones:


The new MTS-branded phone, MTS 236, is the first device to be sold in Russia under the MTS brand through the partnership with Vodafone. The phone was developed by ZTE for Vodafone. MTS 236 is an entry-level phone, priced at RUB 890 (around $28), that will be offered with a Super Zero tariff.


HTC Hero (promo site: http://hero.mts.ru), the first Android phone to be sold in Russia, is arriving to our retail network this week. For the first month, the phone will be sold exclusively through our stores with an introductory offer of free 100 Mb Internet traffic for three months. The phone features such high-end specifications as multi-touch touchscreen, 3G HSDPA/WCDMA capability, Wi-Fi and a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus. It will be sold for RUB 22,990 (around $733).


Samsung BEATDJ (promo site: www.omlet.ru/samsung), the new flagship Samsung device aimed specifically at music fans. The phone is to be sold exclusively at MTS stores for a month following the launch, and we are offering a few music tracks for free to encourage usage of our online content store, Omlet.ru (more on that in upcoming blog posts). The phone features multi-touch touchscreen, 3G HSDPA/WCDMA access, 3 megapixel camera and a 50 Mb internal storage capacity. It is priced at RUB 14,990 (around $478).

By the end of the year, we will launch more MTS-branded phones that we will deliver through the Vodafone partnership. We aim to continue to offer exclusive flagship devices such as Nokia N97 or HTC Hero in our markets.

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FLAGSHIP STORE IN MOSCOW

Tuesday, August 25, 2009



Earlier in August, we have opened the doors of our new flagship store in Moscow. The new store is located on the first floor of the Evropeiskiy shopping center, one of the more popular locations with the residents of Moscow. Around 190,000 people visit the center daily and over 220,000 per day come there during the weekend, according to the data provided by the shopping center.

The new flagship store is part of the development of MTS’ monobrand retail network in Russia, which includes the acquisition of multibrand retailers, increasing franchisees and the rebranding and optimization of existing locations. The key focus of MTS’ retail strategy is to provide personalized customer service and better tailored products, including exclusive devices bundled with applications developed by MTS. For instance, we have recently launched Nokia’s N97 mobile computer exclusively in our retail network.

The new flagship store has been developed using global best practices. We have particularly benefited from our partnership with Vodafone, whereby we have been able to draw from their experience operating retail networks around the world. The key feature of the store lies in its open lay-out with the majority of the retail space dedicated to handsets and devices. Customer can also handle and test the devices, something that has not been possible in Russian retail before.



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MOBILE INTERNET TAKING OFF IN RUSSIA

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Mobile Internet is taking off rapidly in Russia, as all three national mobile operators already operate 3G networks and offer mobile Internet modems. We have been selling the MTS Connect modem in Russia since early 2008 and have sold over 600,000 modems since July 2008, as 3G networks were launched across the country. Currently, we estimate that around 200,000 modems are being sold monthly in Russia by mobile operators, CDMA operators and WiMAX providers, and MTS Connect accounts for around 30% of the total.

Yesterday, we announced a partnership with Intel to support the uptake of mobile Internet solutions in Russia. The first joint initiative under this partnership is a promotion of a bundled offer that will include an Intel-powered netbook, an MTS Connect modem and a special MTS tariff plan.

The first netbook made available under the initiative is Acer Aspire One D250, powered by Intel® Atom™ Processor (http://www.intel.com/technology/atom/). Starting August 18, the netbook will be available across Russia in MTS monobrand retail stores, packaged with an MTS Connect modem, an MTS SIM card with a mobile Internet tariff plan and 600 MB of free traffic.

With a price tag of RUB 14,990 (approx. $470), the new netbook will be an attractive offer to customers in Russia who are looking for greater portability or an entry-level PC solution. As MTS’ 3G networks are already available in 39 Russian cities, the new netbook will let MTS subscribers connect to the Internet with speeds of up to 3.6 Mbit/sec using our HSPA networks. MTS Connect modem allows subscribers to connect to Internet in international roaming and through EDGE/GPRS networks in Russia where 3G is yet to be deployed.

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NOKIA N97 IN RUSSIA

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


On June 11, 2009, MTS began selling the Nokia N97 mobile computer in Russia. Of more than 75 countries, Russia became one of the first markets to offer the device.

Based on the strategic partnership agreement with Nokia, the N97 will be initially sold exclusively through the MTS retail chain, as well as Nokia stores, across Russia. To support the introduction, MTS launched a special website to help subscribers familiarize themselves with the device – http://www.n97.mts.ru

MTS has developed a range of exclusive applications for the N97 that includes weather updates, FOREX rates, newsfeeds, blogging tools, maps and dictionaries. These applications will be distributed on a free 2 GB micro-SD memory card to all subscribers purchasing the new phone at the MTS stores.

In addition, we have initiated a joint marketing campaign with Nokia in Russia to promote the device, our first effort in promoting an exclusive device under the MTS brand (an example of a billboard ad can be seen below).

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SALES THROUGH PAYMENT TERMINALS

Monday, June 15, 2009
This summer we are launching contract sales through payment terminals. Our first partner is OSMP, the leading payment terminal company in Russia. Their consumer brand, QIWI, is the largest network of terminals accepting payments for a wide range of services, including mobile telephony, Internet services, subscription TV and utilities. The network has around 87,000 terminals in Russia, of which over 20,000 are in Moscow.

Customers topping up their accounts through QIWI terminals will be offered our Super Nol’ tariff plan and a new mobile number. The new MTS subscriber will receive the SIM card and the contract by a courier.
 
We are launching the test project this summer and expect to sell over 87,000 contracts over the first month. Depending on the interest of QIWI customers and the pattern of sales, we will review our relationship with the terminal providers.

It should be noted that while many Western European mobile operators have a high share of sales through the Internet, the low penetration of broadband in Russia limits the effectiveness of that channel. At the same time, over the last few years, payment terminals have expanded throughout Russia and are currently present in the majority of locations with high pedestrian traffic, including grocery stores, Metro stations and other popular public areas.

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