Author: Mikhail Doroshevich
At the meeting devoted to the issues of mobile telecommunications development which took place in Minsk on August, 11 Alexander Lukashenko stated: "Mobile communications is not only a high-yielding business but it is an issue of national information security and defense. That is why it is very important for the state to have the control packet the third GSM operator shares".
Lukashenko is inclined to establish a governmental owned third GSM operator. And even if there is the necessity of private investments, they should be of Belarusian business origin.
Lukashenko is sure that if there are foreign investments than the country will suffer huge capital outflow. At present the two Belarusian mobile operators - MTS and Velcom - export for about USD 20 mln annually. If these companies were stated owned ones, then the money would have been invested in Belarusian economy. "Besides - Lukashenko said, - we can make a state owned operator to develop networks in rural areas where it is not very profitable" . And state owned mobile operator will make other operators to observe fair competition principles, thinks Belarusian President.
Lukashenko stressed that equipment for a new mobile operator (mobile phones, transmitters and etc.) could and should be produced by Belarusian sate owned companies. Belarusian Prime-Minster Sergei Sidorski also thinks that Belarusian equipment can be used for GSM communications and it can make services cheater.
Summing up the discussion Belarusian President has emphasized that the bidding for the third GSM operator license should be open, transparent and fare and he personally is going to supervise the whole process. "National interests should be observed and no lobbying is possible", said Lukashenko.
Belarusian President has commissioned the government with the task to work out conditions for a new player entering mobile communications market by the Sptember, 1.
At present there are two GSM operators in Belarus and 95% of urban population (about 2 mln.) use their services. GSM communications network covers 50% of the territory of the country. Since the second GSM operator had entered Belarusian market, mobile communication services have become 3,5 times cheaper. The two GSM operators invested for about USD 420-430 mln. into their networks development. Their tax payments total USD 80 mln.
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