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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Number of Cell Users Tops 25M

The booming cellular phone market shows no signs of slowing, with the number of mobile subscribers nationwide jumping 7 percent in June to top 25.1 million people for the first time, ACM Consulting said Wednesday.

The industry monitor said nationwide penetration is now at 17 percent -- double what it was a year ago -- as regional subscriber growth continues to outpace nearly saturated Moscow and St. Petersburg, the top markets.

Of 1.6 million new subscribers last month, 1.2 million came in the regions, with Moscow and St. Petersburg adding 450,000 and 118,000, respectively.

Penetration in the regions now stands at 11 percent, compared to more than 60 percent in Moscow and 41.6 percent in St. Petersburg, ACM said.

Mobile TeleSystems remained the market leader with 11.5 million subscribers at the end of June, including 4.1 million in Moscow and 2 million in Ukraine, while No. 2 Vimpelcom had 7.5 million subscribers, 4.4 million in Moscow. The country's third-largest operator, Megafon, increased its subscriber base to 4.3 million people, 440,000 of those in Moscow.

MTS therefore has a 37 percent share of the national market, while Vimpelcom and Megafon have 30 percent and 17 percent, respectively.

In the first six months this year, MTS also became the leader in net additions in Moscow, gaining 52 percent of new subscribers, and in the regions, attracting 38 percent of new users.

During the same period, Vimpelcom signed up 43 percent of new users in Moscow and 29 percent in the regions. Megafon gained 5 percent of new subscribers in Moscow and 20 percent in the regions.

ACM expects the market to continue the trend, growing another 28 percent in the second half of the year, said Anton Pogrebinsky, a consultant at the company.

"We still stick to our earlier forecasts that Russia will hit the 32 million subscriber mark by the end of the year," he said.