10 Oct 2008

Orange to enter Armenian market?

While conducting our research into developments across the Caspian Sea and Central Asia regions, we've dug out some interesting nuggets of information and opinion from a number of the individual markets concerned. Expect to see all of this reflected in the theme of the discussions at our annual Eurasia Com conference in Istanbul, 31st March & 1st April 2009.

One country we've found particularly fruitful in terms of research respondents is Armenia. One respondent there seems quite confident that the country's mobile market will be joined by a new player in the near future and that the new entrant will be Orange. The France Telecom cellular brand is not a total stranger to former Soviet territory, having established a foothold in Moldova, via the 2007 rebranding of Voxtel. Our friend in Armenia also felt that the entrant is likely to deploy WiMAX in additon to a GSM/W-CDMA network.

Armenia, home to fewer than 3.5 million people, is not a huge market to split between three mobile operators. In the context of the region around it, the country has also been quite well penetrated by the existing two MNOs, one of which is a part of the MTS empire. The other, Armentel (now branded Beeline) is the incumbent fixed-line operator as well as offering mobile services. Beeline, a well-known name across CIS markets, is the brand of the company's new owners, Vimpelcom of Russia.

I wonder, therefore, what any new entrant will be planning in terms of ways to grab market share from these two established players.