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    NUMBER OF CELL PHONE USERS IN RUSSIA RISES TO 36.4 MILLION

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    MOSCOW, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - The number of cell phone users in Russia increased from 18 million to 36.4 million in 2003. The territory covered by cell phone communication reached 24.7% by the end of 2003. The operators of the federal network of the GSM standard made the biggest contribution to the rise in the number of cell phone users in Russia. This information has been announced at a session of Russia's Communications Ministry board held in Moscow.

    The total amount of telecommunications services provided last year increased by 42.4% and reached 360 billion rubles (over $12 billion). At the same time, the share of traditional operators, that is, natural monopolies, amounted to about 40% and the share of new operators rose to 60%.

    Communications enterprises put into service about 62,000 kilometers of cable and radio-relay lines, 4 million numbers of fixed telephone exchanges and over 53,000 channels of international telephone exchanges.

    The number of the main telephones in local telephone networks totaled 1.8 million, mainly due to telephones installed with the population.

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