Belarusian Telecommunications Network (BeST), which trades under the banner life:), has signed up more than 200,000 3G mobile users and is aiming to increase this to 500,000 by the end of the year, e-Belarus reports citing its CEO Ozcan Ermis as saying. Of the total, between 90,000 and 95,000 subscribers are classed as subscribing to plans which include mobile internet, while the remainder are using 3G services on an ad hoc basis. To date, life:) is the only Belarusian GSM-operator to have deployed a commercial 3G network. It hopes the head start will enable it to secure a roughly 70% market share of the UMTS segment.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, BeST signed up its one millionth user on 28 December 2009, and reported a fourfold increase in customers over the year to give it around 11% of the overall market by the start of 2010. On 3 November 2009, life:) launched the country’s first 3G network offering high speed internet connectivity at downlink speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and providing new services such as videocalling. The operator, which is 80%-owned by Turkish telecoms company Turkcell, with the remaining 20% in the hands of the Republic of Belarus, said that its 3G/3.5G network was available to residents in the capital Minsk and other major cities at launch.