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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

MTS Has 4 Months Left at 902

No. 1 mobile operator Mobile TeleSystems has until June to remove its subscribers from the 902 area code, according to an order from the Communications Ministry.

But MTS hasn't even started phasing out the number -- set aside for the company's subscribers using a federal code -- and has asked the ministry to allow it to keep the digits.

"We're against the transfer because it will cause an inconvenience to a large number of our subscribers," said MTS spokesman Kirill Lubnin. "After all, 2 million people have grown accustomed to using their [telephone] numbers."

The Communications Ministry allocated new area codes last July to national GSM operator MTS and St. Petersburg's North-West GSM. But the companies were told at the time to stop using the 902 area code by July 2002 because the ministry wants to turn over the code to smaller regional operators.

MTS has not started transferring subscribers to new area codes, and last week the company wrote a letter to the ministry asking for a review of the decision.

If the ministry doesn't let MTS keep the digits, Lubnin said, the company will have to remove its clients from the code very quickly.

The ministry, however, says its position is final.

North-West GSM was also asked to stop using the code and is gradually doing so, said ministry spokesman Sergei Grigorenko. "Conditions have to be the same for everyone, and there won't be any exceptions," he said.