For the first time ever, all three major Russian mobile operators lost subscribers in early 2012, according to a report from AC&M Consulting, a Russian management consulting and research agency specializing in telecommunications and media.
This recent evolution could be a sign of market saturation, AC&M analysts say.
In 2011 the operators sold no fewer than 100 million SIM cards, but their combined subscriber bases grew by just 8 million. The growth was fuelled essentially by new users of mobile Internet access and M2M services rather than voice service subscribers, according to AC&M Consulting.
With over 227 million active SIM cards in Russian mobile networks by the end of 2011, the mobile penetration rate reached 156.8%. Not only did virtually the entire Russian population use mobile phones, many people used more than one SIM card.