Russian long-distance operator Multiregional Transit Telecom (MTT) has launched mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services in Tajikistan under the Aiva Mobile brand, using the network of local cellco Babilon-Mobile (Babilon-M), according to a press release. Following the commercial launch of Aiva Mobile in Russia over the network of Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) in July 2014 (having tested the Russian MVNO service since May), MTT chose Tajikistan as the next country to launch the brand, which is aimed at ethnic communities of the former Soviet Union, primarily in Central Asia. MTT plans to expand Aiva Mobile to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan by the end of the year.
Currently subscribers can sign up to Aiva Mobile at Babilon-M retail outlets in Tajikistan with call rates starting at RUB0.50 (USD0.01) per minute within the network. Packages feature two active mobile phone numbers for Tajikistan and Russia on one SIM card, offering favourable call rates in both countries, as well as messaging and mobile internet access. Aiva Mobile’s website adds that customer support is provided in the native language of subscribers, while noting that pre-paid credit balance must be topped up separately for Russian (MTS) and Tajik (Babilon-M) usage.
A ‘few thousand’ consumers are already subscribed to Aiva Mobile in Tajikistan, MTT’s press release added, with director of mobile business development at MTT, Fyodor Roznov, forecasting that the MVNO brand’s multi-country subscriber base will exceed 100,000 within a year. An article by Russia’s Telecom Daily estimated that the core target audience of migrant workers is around 1.8 million-strong in the Moscow region alone (including around 450,000 from Tajikistan), while approximately 60% of these migrant workers are based in their home country for part of each year. The article therefore surmised that Aiva Mobile could sign up more than a million of these potential users with its ethnic-specific services.