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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moscow Cellular Operators Delay GPRS Launch

Moscow cellular operators Vimpelcom and Mobile TeleSystems have pushed back the launch of their latest mobile Internet technology, GPRS, citing software crashes and a lack of handsets.

MTS said last year it was aiming to launch GPRS high-speed data transmission services by December 2000 and Vimpelcom said it was aiming for January 2001.

GPRS is a step on the way to third-generation cell service since it can be much faster than previous services, making mobile Internet and other data-heavy use more practical.

Vimpelcom President Jo Lunder said in a statement this week the company would have GPRS on the market this quarter and expected "tens of thousands" of clients to use it by year-end.

MTS spokeswoman Eva Prokofyeva said MTS had not set a date.

Both Prokofyeva and Vimpelcom spokesman Mikhail Umarov said suppliers had failed to deliver enough GPRS phones to sell the service to the general public.

They said their companies were also warned off by the partial crash of MTS' GSM network in December, which MTS blamed on a glitch in the GPRS software it had been testing.

Andrei Bogdanov, a telecoms analyst at Alfa Bank, said both companies were too worried about image damage from such network crashes to launch while potential revenue from GPRS appears low.

"They are worried about the fall of network, which would be very negative for their image," Bogdanov said. "Especially for Vimpelcom, which is gaining an image of being more accurate than MTS, which is now the market leader." "It's more working for the future, for image, than for real cash they would start to make from this service," he added.