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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Decree Ends Cell-Phone Registration

The government has abolished registration requirements for users of mobile and satellite phones, although the decree repealing the permit system has not yet gone into effect. Increased numbers of new subscribers have made it more difficult to regulate the industry so closely.

Communications Minister Leonid Reiman announced the news Tuesday at a Communications Ministry meeting attended by industry leaders. Reiman said Government Decree No. 157 on changes in the registration and usage procedures for "mobile radio station subscribers" had been signed by acting President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

According to the decree, permits from the state communications oversight agency Gossvyaznadzor are no longer required to use satellite communication systems and cellular phones. Reuters reported, however, that it is still illegal to use code division multiple access, or CDMA, mobile handsets.

Under the new decree, subscribers can freely transfer their accounts to relatives and friends without risk of confiscation, and corporate telephones no longer have to be registered in a specific employee's name. Foreign businessmen also will benefit by no longer having to obtain a temporary roaming permit when entering Russian territory.

The decree was written to go into effect the moment it was signed, although it has yet to be implemented. Gossvyaznadzor expects to receive documentation of the decree this week, after which the agency officially will notify cellular phone service providers of the changes.

Interfax quoted Moscow Telephone System development and marketing director Margarita Orlova as saying the changes will save her company's subscribers $12 a month, which MTS collects for the permits.

It is unclear how responsive users have been to the law's requirements or how effective enforcement efforts have been.

Last November, the PagerGate company conducted an Internet survey in which it asked nearly 2,000 people how often they applied for cellular phone permits. Sixty-eight percent of respondents reported they had never applied for a permit, and 23 percent said they did so only occasionally. Only 9 percent of respondents reported they had been asked by police to produce their permits.

The possibility of changing the permit system was first raised last October when Gossvyaznadzor agreed to issue blank permit applications for purchasers of Bee Plus telephones, sold in grocery stores by the Vimpelcom company.

According to figures cited at the Communications Ministry meeting, there are 1,340,000 mobile phone subscribers in Russia.