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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Cellphone Users Push 30 Million Barrier

Russians are mobilizing across the entire country, arming themselves with cellphones like never before, the latest industry data shows.

The number of cellphone users in Russia broke the 30 million barrier in September, pushing the overall penetration level to 21.2 percent of the population, J'son & Partners and Sotovik said in their market watch report Tuesday.

Russia had less than 20 million subscribers at the start of the year.

The addition of 2 million new subscribers in September accounted for a fifth of total net additions for the year and beat the previous record, set in August, of 1.8 million, suggesting no slow down is in sight.

Leading the market nationally is Mobile TeleSystems, with 11.5 million subscribers, followed by Vimpelcom at 9.3 million and Megafon a distant third with 5.4 million.

In Moscow, traditionally the most dynamic region for cellular operators, growth is slowing down as the market is fast approaching saturation. With 62.4 percent penetration in the capital, operators are focusing more on regional expansion, which is driving market growth.

Average monthly growth in the regions since January this year is 7.3 percent, nearly double the figure in Moscow. Outside Moscow, the market has nearly doubled since January, growing 88 percent, compared to just 45 percent in the capital, according to J'son & Partners.

In Moscow, where competition is the fiercest, companies are taking up defensive positions and using "retention tactics," outgoing Vimpelcom president Jo Lunder said last week in his last public appearance in that capacity.