95% Subscriber growth during 1997 Moscow and New York (January 23, 1998) - Open Joint Stock Company Vimpel-Communications ("VimpelCom") (NYSE: "VIP") today reported some major achievements for the year ended December 31, 1997.
VimpelCom reached the milestone of over 100,000 subscribers on its Digital-AMPS (D-AMPS) network and over 10,000 subscribers on its GSM-1800 (PCS) network without any reduction in air time tariffs. This represents a growth of approximately 95% over the 56,584 subscribers at the end of 1996. Strong subscriber growth reported in previous periods continued during the fourth quarter of 1997, as VimpelCom added approximately 14,000 subscribers to its Moscow D-AMPS network and 8,000 subscribers to its PCS network. VimpelCom’s subscriber base on its regional networks also continues to grow. At the end of 1997, VimpelCom’s 50% subsidiary in Samara had over 5,600 subscribers, a growth of 130% over year end subscribers in 1996.
Average monthly usage per subscriber in 1997 remained strong as compared with other operators around the world at 376 minutes, approximately 11% less than 423 minutes in 1996. This decline is consistent with the average decline in previous years and was due in part to the significant increase in VimpelCom’s subscriber base and its penetration of new customer segments.
VimpelCom increased the coverage zone of its D-AMPS network three-fold, from 7,800 sq. km. at the end of 1996 to 24,244 sq. km. at the end of 1997, as part of a plan to build a unified network serving our licensed regions surrounding Moscow. VimpelCom considerably enhanced its PCS network by improving coverage and establishing international roaming agreements. At the end of 1997, nine roaming agreements had been signed and were in operation in the following countries: United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria and Singapore.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Dr. Dmitri Zimin, President and Chief Executive Officer of VimpelCom, said: "We are very pleased with these results, because they reflect a very successful year for VimpelCom. We consolidated our position as the largest cellular operator in Russia and maintained our leading position in a very competitive Moscow market. Also we are continuing to expand our footprint in the Russian regions. At the end of 1997, we received an AMPS/D-AMPS license in the Vologda region which connects our licensed regions of Tver and the Republic of Karelia. I am also proud to say that we continue to be pioneers in the cellular industry in Russia, having received the first license from the Federal Agency of Governmental Communications and Information of the Russian Federation (FAPSI) to provide encoded voice and data transmission."
VimpelCom expects to release U.S. GAAP audited financial results for the fourth quarter of 1997 and the year ended December 31, 1997 in April 1998.
VimpelCom is the largest provider of cellular telecommunications in Russia, marketing its services under the brand name "Bee Line". The VimpelCom Group operates the only Digital-AMPS cellular network and the first Russian PCS network, using GSM technology, in the Moscow License Area, which includes the City of Moscow and the Moscow Region. The VimpelCom Group holds cellular licenses in nine regions of European Russia which have a total population of approximately 28 million (19% of Russia’s population). VimpelCom was the first and still the only Russian company listed on the New York Stock Exchange (November 1996) under the symbol "VIP".
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