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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

VimpelCom Extends Wi-Fi

No. 2 mobile operator VimpelCom has unveiled plans to install wireless Internet, or Wi-Fi, connections at 12 airports across the country from August 1.

The airports to be covered include Sheremetyevo's international terminal, St. Petersburg's Pulkovo and airports in Nizhny Novgorod and Perm. The service, which costs 243 rubles ($9.50) per hour, is already available at Domodedovo.

Mobile TeleSystems operates 300 hotspots across the country, including in Moscow and the Moscow region, Sochi, Izhevsk and St. Petersburg.

Last week, MTS introduced a simplified log-in system that allows clients to use Wi-Fi by sending an SMS message to retrieve a username and password. Scratch cards with passwords were previously needed to access the system.

So far, Wi-Fi remains largely a client-retention service.

"There is not much to write home about in terms of revenues," MTS spokeswoman Irina Osadchaya said Monday. "These services are provided to maintain our clients' loyalty."

VimpelCom spokeswoman Yelena Prokhorova said it was "difficult to provide an estimate of the financial viability of the project at the moment. In the meantime, we are satisfied with the positive image the project will give our company."

Golden Telecom, a wireless operator part-owned by Alfa Group's telecoms arm Altimo, last week started the world's largest Wi-Fi network, consisting of 7,500 access nodes in Mega shopping centers across the country. The company already has operational Wi-Fi access points in Moscow, Kazan, Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg.