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It was the Norwegian ambassador in Russia, Per Tresselt and the Governor of Stavropol, Alexander Tchernogorov, who officially opened the GSM network of StavTeleSot in Stavropol on 27 January this year. StavTeleSot has a license to develop a GSM network in the Stavropol region, and at the time of opening the mobile network covers the population of the city of Stavropol which has about 350 000 inhabitants. During the next few years, the company will develop the network in the rest of the region. Alcatel supplies the base stations and exchange equipment.
Stavropol is located in North Caucasus on the plains south-east of Rostov, right between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The country is approximately the size of Ireland with a population of about 2,7 million and an area of more than 67 000 square kilometers. Stavropol consists of big agricultural areas in addition to some mountainous areas in the south, but also has some mechanical and chemical industry. Now the country is also starting to emphasise tourism, particularly trips to mineral springs and spas in the south.
Today, telephone coverage in the cities is about 20 per cent and there are approximately 1 500 mobile phone users. With 10 dealers already in place, StavTeleSot expects to quickly take a large share of the mobile market in Stavropol.
The share capital in StavTeleSot is 94 million NOK divided between two Russian partners, Elektrosviaz and StavTelekom, which together own 51 per cent, and Telenor, which owns 49 per cent of the shares.
– The opening of the mobile network in Stavropol is part of a larger commitment in Russia and the former Russian states, says Ole Johan Haga, Regional Director in Telenor International. – We already have projects in St. Petersburg, Murmansk, Kaliningrad and Stavropol and are considering other mobile projects in this area.
Telenor is already a joint owner of one of the fastest growing mobile companies in Russia, North-West GSM, which offers GSM services in the St. Petersburg area. Together with other Nordic telecommunications operators, Telenor owns 49 per cent of the shares. North-West GSM now has 60 000 GSM subscribers. Telenor also owns 49 per cent of the shares in Extel, the GSM operator in Kaliningrad, which opened in the fall of 1997.