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    RUSSIA'S CELL PHONE NETWORK DEVELOPING RAPIDLY

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 2 (RIA NOVOSTI) - Russia's cell phone network continues to develop at a breath-taking pace, acting communications minister Leonid Reiman said.

    More than one million people used to buy cell phones each month last year, Mr. Reiman noted.

    In his words, Russia, which now boasts the most rapidly developing cell phone market in the world, also ranks second after China in terms of cell phone purchases. At the same time, traditional operators accounted for 40 percent of all network operators last year, with the share of cell phone operators being around 60 percent, Mr. Reiman added.

    Moreover, some rather ambitious construction projects in the field of international and intercity communications networks were implemented last year. The largest communications networks include the Russia-Azerbaijan optical fiber network; moreover, the throughput capacity of the Moscow-Novosibirsk-Khabarovsk communications network's Moscow-Samara-Novosibirsk sector was boosted with the help of state-of-the-art technologies.

    Local telephone networks used to develop on the base of up-to-date digital telephone exchanges last year, thus offering better services and expanding their range all the same.

    According to Mr. Reiman, the digital-format switch-over coefficient (as regards local telephone networks) was about 46.6 percent as compared to 41.4 percent for the 2002 period.

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