Vodafone agrees branding, 3G rollout deal with MTS Ukraine

Vodafone has extended its partner market agreement with MTS in a move that will see the Vodafone brand used to sell mobile services in Ukraine for the first time.

MTS Ukraine is to adopt the Vodafone brand as part of a combined effort to develop 3G services for the Ukraine market. Vodafone and Russia-based MTS have been working together since the original partner market agreement was signed in 2008.

The launch of 3G services under the Vodafone brand in Ukraine will commence in the coming months and will include the transition of MTS's retail outlets and the majority of its dealerships. The Vodafone brand will not be used in territories currently not under the direct control of the Ukrainian government, the statement noted.

MTS Ukraine only launched 3G services in March this year based on a roaming agreement with Ukrtelecom's mobile unit TriMob. At the time of the launch, the company said it would build its own UMTS-based network, although details about timing and scope have been limited to date.

The company said it now plans to make use of Vodafone's expertise and brand to help it launch 3G technology and sell 3G data services in the market. Vodafone, which has already rolled out 3G in 26 countries, will advise on network operation, network optimisation and the introduction of 3G services, including music and games applications for consumers.

MTS Ukraine general director Oleg Prozhyvalsky said the launch of the Vodafone brand in Ukraine is the most significant event in the market in recent years.

"Ukrainian customers will be able to get access to a wide range of 3G services already available in Europe and other Vodafone countries. The implementation of the company's unique global technological and marketing expertise in Ukraine will have a positive impact for consumers, enterprises and the economy," Prozhyvalsky said.

For Vodafone, such partner market agreements are common practice to enable the company to extend its brand to markets where it does not have a presence. For example, last year it formed a similar agreement with Afrimax, which plans to utilise the Vodafone brand to market its LTE services across Sub-Saharan Africa.

When Vodafone and MTS signed their partner market agreement in 2008, the plan was to market Vodafone's products and services in Russia and the CIS under a co-branded approach. The deal covered MTS operations in in Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Armenia.

For more:
- see this Vodafone release
- see this TeleGeography article

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