Belarusian state-controlled GSM operator BeST reported 8,500 subscribers at the start of this month, up 13.3% on the figure reported on 1 May. The cellco launched in the capital Minsk on 11 December 2005 and currently operates 32 base stations and one switching centre in the capital.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, BeST is targeting the low end of the market and has attracted most of its customers by offering preferential tariffs for so-called ‘low value’ subscribers. The operator hopes to attract 500,000 to 600,000 subscribers by the end of 2006. Having covered Minsk and its environs — as stipulated under the terms of its licence — BeST is now rolling out its network to other areas. In March 2006 it began covering regional urban centres and by end-2007 it hopes to have extended its footprint to include all basic highways and their adjoining areas. Within 36 months of receiving its licence it is required to cover 90% of the population and has targeted 2014 as the date for completing its national rollout. The network build is expected to cost more than USD200 million.