According to Armenia’s Minister of Transport and Communication, Manuk Vardanyan, the country was home to more than 2.77 million mobile users at the end of 2010, a cellular penetration rate of 86%. Cellular services are provided by the country’s three incumbent operators – ArmenTel, K-Telecom (VivaCell-MTS) and Orange Armenia – and have been bolstered in recent years by the introduction of 3G, he said. The minister added that 4G is currently being introduced throughout the country, and TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that only last month, VivaCell-MTS launched its LTE network on a ‘test-commercial basis’. It plans a full commercial launch in February this year starting in Yerevan before expanding coverage to Armenia’s other regions. VivaCell-MTS paid AMD990 million (USD2.7 million) for a 4G concession in November 2010. Meanwhile, fellow operator Armentel is said to be in discussions with the Public Services Regulatory Commission of Armenia as it seeks to secure a 4G concession.
In a related story, Orange Armenia has revealed that its mobile subscriber base reached 500,000 at the end of last year. ‘The year of 2010 was important for the company, which launched full-fledged operations throughout Armenia,’ said Orange Armenia CEO Bruno Duthoit. ‘This year marked a lot of innovations, new offers, extension of the coverage, construction of the customer base and investments,’ he added. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database the cellco, which is owned by France Telecom, had 45,000 mobile broadband customers at the end of September 2010, and its 3G network provided access to 93% of the population. In December 2010 it upgraded its national network with High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) and high definition (HD) voice services, employing the services of Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) to carry out the modernisation of the core and access network which will enable Orange to provide high quality voice calls and data speeds of up to 14.4Mbps in main cities.