Russian operator eyes Iranian GSM licence

MegaFon gains licence to establish branch in Iran, according to local reports

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Russian operator eyes Iranian GSM licence Iran is viewed as a lucrative telecom market, with a population of more than 60 million people and a mobile penetration rate of less than 70%. (Getty Images)
By  Roger Field Published  August 13, 2009

Russian mobile operator MegaFon is reported to have gained a licence to set up a branch in Iran, according to Tabnak, an Iranian news website.

MegaFon, Russia’s third biggest mobile operator, originally expressed an interested in entering Iran early last year when its management held talks with Iranian officials. Soon after, the company’s board said it intended to establish an office in Iran to help it bid for the country’s third mobile licence.

The new development follows a tumultuous few months for the Iranian telecoms sector, which is currently dominated by two operators, the state-run Iran Telecommunication Company, and MTN Group of South Africa.

UAE incumbent Etisalat, which was originally selected by Iran’s telecom regulator to set up the country’s third GSM network, was stripped of its licence in May, apparently following a disagreement with its local partner, Tamin Telecom.

In early July, Kuwait’s Zain Group, which emerged as the regulator’s second choice for the licence, was rejected after being accused of failing to “fulfill its obligations”.

MegaFon, which is headquartered in Moscow and has more than 35 million subscribers throughout Russia, was unavailable for comment.

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