VILNIUS - Tele2, the Swedish-owned mobile telephone operator in Lithuania, announced last week that it had signed up over a million service subscribers and that it would begin providing Internet services in the near future.
What's more, the company claimed to be the largest telecommunication operator in the region.
"We are glad to announce that we have become the largest telecom operator in the Baltic countries in terms of subscriber numbers," Pranas Kuisys, Tele2 commercial director, said in a news conference on Nov. 11.
According to the company's calculations, Tele2 had 24,000 more subscribers than Omnitel and 177,000 more subscribers than Lietuvos Telekomas (Lithuanian Telecom) at the end of September. Tele2 based its calculations on the fact that the Ezys prepaid mobile-phone service, which is provided via Omnitel's network, is distributed by Omnitel's partner chain, Simas, rather than the wireless operator itself.
Kuisys also noted that it took over 10 years for Omnitel to attract a million users, while Tele2 did so in four years.
The total number of mobile telephone subscribers in Lithuania, a country of 3.5 million people, reached 2.98 million at the end of September, up by 8.5 percent from late June, according to data from the country's Communi-cations Regulatory Authority. Operators' aggregate revenues edged up by 0.5 percent to 275 million litas (79.7 million euros) during the third quarter.
Omnitel, which is controlled by the Scandinavian telecoms group TeliaSonera, reported in October that it had 1.22 million customers as of late September.
Bite GSM, Lithuania's second-biggest mobile operator by revenues, announced that its number of subscribers reached 792,000 at the end of the third quarter. The company is owned by Denmark's TDC.
Also, Tele2's commercial director said that the company intended to start providing Internet services later in 2004 or early in 2005. "It's difficult to give exact dates at this point, but we're thinking about providing fast DSL Internet serv-ices as well," he added.
Business customers make up around 5 percent of Tele2's subscribers.
Tele2 Fiksuotas Rysys, a subsidiary of Tele2, is currently providing fixed-line telephone services in Lithuania. The company would not disclose how many fixed-line customers it has.