The Russian mobile content market is regulated by the Russian Ministry of Telecommunications. For premium MO billed short codes there are no Network restrictions, however the service(s) must not directly or indirectly compromise an operator or its subsidiaries, and comply with the restrictions laid out below. For the 2 carriers that provide premium MT billed short codes (MTS and Beeline), there are strict regulations, which are detailed below. Megafon and Tele2 have informed that they are in the process of provisioning MT billed shortcodes, however have given no indication of a date yet.
The service(s) must also comply with the requirements of the laws of the Russian Federation and the contents of the services must comply with the generally accepted social, moral and ethics principles (e.g. message content not to contain defamatory information, propagate violence or national hostility etc.).
MTS and their subsidiary Astrakhan-GSM.
HCC. On December 01, 2009 ZAO NCC took over ZAO Ulyanovsk-GSM. Network name in txtNation's systems: ULG
The three biggest Russian federal teleoperators are MTS, Beeline, Megafon; we have full, country wide coverage. We also cover the major regional teleoperators - Tele2, SMARTS, Astrakhan-GSM, Yaroslavl-GSM, MOTIV, NTC, BaikalWestCom and Uljanovsk-GSM. This covers over 97% of Russian subscribers.
On request the following carriers can also be applied for on shared and dedicated codes: Utel Telecom (USI), Penza GSM, Parma Mobile Indigo Komi, Indigo GSM Velikyi Novgorod, Uzhno‐Uralskyi Sotovyi Telephon Uyst.
One report indicates that over 60% of Russians now have cell phones, versus just 25% two years ago. Within the past year, cell phone penetration rose from 53.9 to 88.3 percent, according to ACM Consulting data, RIAN reports, indicating that there are now 128 million cell subscribers, versus just 78 million a year ago. Since ACM tallied cell phone users by number of SIM cards sold, the number is most likely inflated — many people use multiple SIM cards. It's not uncommon for Russians to have phone numbers for each city they visit regularly, say a Moscow and a St. Petersburg number. Hence, in some regions, cell phone penetration exceeds 100 percent. According to a more conservative, and a more realistic estimate by a national pollster, Romir Monitoring, Russian cell phone penetration is around 60 percent, still quite high. In rural areas with few landlines, cell phones are often the only means of communication, but, given lower income levels in rural areas, only 47 percent of village residents are said to have cells. In the more affluent cities, penetration is over 75 percent. Over two-thirds of Russians send text messages regularly, and, for people under 24, the number goes up to 90 percent.
The UN released Information Economy Report 2006 recording 1 billion Internet users around the world. The United States is the leader in terms of the number of the world web users with 200 million people. Russia is 11th with 21.8 million users. In terms of cell communication, Russia has the third-largest number of subscribers. The number of Internet users in Russia grew 17.8 percent in one year.
The report also cites statistics on cell communication subscribers. 2.17 billion people were using cellular communication at the end of the year, 23.5 percent more than last year. China tops the list of cell phone subscribers with 393 million people and the United States occupies the second position with 201 million users. Russia has climbed to number three with 120 million subscribers. However, Russia beats these two countries in terms of phone use percentage. 83 out of 100 Russians have a cell phone while in the United States only 70 percent of the people have it, and only 30 percent – in China.
- Area: 17 million sq. km. (6.5 million sq. mi.); about 1.8 times the size of the United States.
- Cities: Capital--Moscow (pop. 10.4 million)
- People Nationality: Noun and adjective--Russian(s).
- Population (January 2010): 141.9 million.
- Language: Russian (official); more than 140 other languages and dialects.
- Government Type: Federation.
- Economy GDP (2009): $1.231 trillion. (Russian Government statistics--RosStat)
- The ruble (Russian language: ру́бль, IPA: [ˈrublʲ]) is the currency of Russia. Both the spellings "ruble" and "rouble" are used in English. RUR must be used when conveying the price to users, e.g. RUR 149. One ruble is divided into 100kopeks (Russian language: копе́йка, kopeyka),
For shared code approval see forum entry Russia / Shared Short Code Requirements and Restrictions.
As part of the application process for you will need to complete a txtNation Customer Care Form (CCF). The CCF is used to submit to the carriers for them to provision the shortcode, and can be used ongoing to ensure that your service tests the same as the approval. This said, once you have your approval through, as with shared codes, we rarely see audits to ensure that your service is functioning as expected, and so long as there are no end-user complaints, to date we have received no regulatory pressure to keep the service running exactly the same as your approvals.
Dedicated shortcode approval takes 3 to 6 months upon application approval by mobile operators.
For premium MO short codes there are no official regulatory documents, however with our experience of applying for codes, the following is required:
- End users will be given complete and accurate information of service costs and content.
- All advertising must display tariffs in RUR (including VAT).
- Customer hotline number (including availability in Moscow time zone: GMT +3) or email address and webpage URL.
For subscription services, as per the Beeline subscription guidelines document (page 8) advertisement materials must include the following information:
- Service frequency;
- Billing frequency (daily, once a week, etc.);
- Service fees (in Russian Ruble, VAT and all related taxes incl.);
- Unsubscription terms and manners (SMS, call to technical support, etc.);
- Technical support contacts: e-mail, phone number.
See page 9 if you are operating a WEB or a WAP opt-in.
For subscription services, as per the MTS subscription guidelines document (page 5) , advertisement materials must include complete and detailed description of Service, its logic and fees plus;
- Age limits for the Service;
- Short service numbers and list of commands with their description;
- Billing frequency and short codes list from which sms will be sent to subscribers;
- All available methods to subscribe and unsubscribe using standard commands;
- Disclosure of availability to unsubscribe at any time;
- Frequency of receiving of paid content in the frames of Service;
- Frequency of receiving of free sms messages remining the subscriber of Service description, fees and unsubscription terms;
- Listing of all short codes used in the Service with description of their functions;
- Contact details of the Service provider’s technical support.*
*Note: Technical support service must unsubscribe a subscriber on the day of his request, inform about terms, conditions and fees of the Service, provide information on content included and its compatibility with a subscriber’s handset. If needed, replace content with equivalent, compatible with the subscriber’s handset model.
Requirements for advertising materials (page 9):
1. 80% of video or audio add time of print add space is devoted to Subscription service
2. Name of Service
3. Statement that the Service is paid subscription
4. Billing frequency (example: weekly or monthly)
5. Subscription fee (VAT inclusive)
6. How to unsubscribe (including standard STOP command)
7. Content provider’s contacts.
For information on applying for a shared MT billed code, please speak to your account manager.
- Standard rate subscription programs require a single opt-in (SMS-O).
- The WO-RAR keyword message must include the information contained on the Message Flow section of this forum entry, and be sent via txtNation.
- SMS and MMS will only be sent to end users for the purpose of answering their received orders, e.g. you can not send an MT to a user without them having opted in first. SPAM (Unsolicited messages) is strictly forbidden by Russian operators. SPAM is defined as any voice call, SMS or MMS received without prior opt‐in from the mobile subscribers or any voice call, SMS or MMS that contains misleading information.
- A response MT must be initiated for every MO received.
- All message request (keywords) and reply messages must be in Russian language and Cyrillic characters (not in English, not transliteration). Exceptions can be made only for cases, when brand names or similar are being used, e.g. Brand names of companies (for ex. Beeline, Skype), Registered trade marks, Artist brands (for ex. MakSim), Album or song names, for example.
- Plain text, binary content and WAP Push all supported. PIN code micropayments, are allowed how ever most Adult and all Gambling services are prohibited by law.
- Service can not supply content unless it has been created, licensed and obtained legally and that the Buyer has full rights to its use.
- For subscription services, as per the Beeline subscription guidelines document (page 3) Delivering a service in instalments; ”Content by installment” is not available for subscriptions. E.g. subscribers must get something of value for each billing event. You can not deliver the final product once they have been subscribed for a certain period of time. See pages 12 - 14 for exceptions.
Also for subscription services, as per the MTS subscription guidelines document (page 2 - 3) for allowed subscription service types and clarifications.
- Adult services are allowed in the form of Soft core, operator approval is required for this.
Soft/Artistic - naked bodies (maximum), no genitals (visible/exposed), no sexual intercourse, no teens (avoid models that look teen).
For videos, a naked dancing model would be OK, a naked model spreading their legs to expose genitals would not.
Message Flow Requirements
There are no written guidelines for MO billed services. As MO billing lends itself only to transactional services and there are no requirements to inform users that they have been billed for each message except in the advertising, you are free to put whatever you like in the return MT's so long as it is legal and not misleading.
The following applies to MT billed subscription services:
- The following limits apply to the number of MTs that can be sent in response to an initiating MO: the current service limitation on subscription services is 9 MT to 1 MO unless the end‐user can immediately stop the subscription by means of an SMS in which case there is no limit; other services limitation is 3 MT to 1 MO. Note: services that do not meet these general restrictions may be allowable if a valid case can be made to the Network Operators ‐ please contact your account manager to discuss.
- Any MTs sent over the MT limits may be classed as SPAM and may result in service termination and/or a substantial fine.
- Additionally, Megafon apply a time cut‐off: Any incoming messages (MTs) sent to the subscriber more than 30 days from the subscriber’s last request (MO) will be classed as SPAM.
- MTs sent other than via direct operator connections may be classed as SPAM and may result in service termination and/or a substantial fine.
Furthermore for subscription services, as per the Beeline subscription guidelines document:
- Page 7: "The partner informs the end-user about subscription extention at least once a month and after every deduction of 300 RUB", e.g. send them a reminder message every month or every 300 RUB, whichever comes first. Also in MTS subscription guidelines, plus elaborated with "One day before the subscription expires the subscriber shall be informed by the means of free sms message that: 1. Service is getting prolonged; 2. Service fees; 3. Billing frequency; 4. Service quantity; 5. Unsubscription manners."
- Page 7: "The end-user shall have the possibility to unsubscribe by sending empty (or consisting of code) SMS to the short code". You must treat a message with no text as a stop request.
Also for subscription services, as per the MTS subscription guidelines document:
- Page 4: Automatic prolongation of subscription by sending of charged message from a short code can be activated from 9:00 to 20:00 (subscriber’s local time) despite of actual time when service has been initially activated.
- Page 11: Each time a subscriber is charged, an SMS with brief information on status of subscription and unsubscribe methods shall be sent to him (her): “You have been charged for RUR XXX for subscription to YYY service. To unsubscribe pls. send ZZZ to NNN number (sms is free in your home region)”.
- Page 11: In case when the subscriber unsubscribes the Service he (she) shall get free of charge sms message with the following information: “The subscription for the Service YYY is cancelled. Paid for the period Service YYY will be provided comprehensively”.
- See pages 12 - 13 for comprehensive message flows requirements.
MT is available on 2 networks MTS and Beeline for dedicated codes, the rest are MO billed.
Each operator charges a slightly different rate to the end users, for convenience we normalize this at the maximum that users are billed. To put the discrepancy into perspective, it is very small, most of the time it is no more than half a rubel out.
For subscription services, as per the Beeline subscription guidelines document:
- Page 4: MO billing is not available. E.g. you can not charge users for their inbound message and for the outbound on the same service.
- Page 5: "Rate-setting shall be implemented not oftener than once a month", e.g. you can only operate monthly billing, not daily, weekly, per event, etc.
- Page 6: "The Partner shall try attempt no oftener then once a day; 4. If after one month billing is still impossible, the subscription is defined as cancelled;" e.g. you can implement a daily retry policy for a month only.
Also for subscription services see the MTS subscription guidelines:
- Page 11: "In case a subscriber can’t be charged due to temporary blocking of his number (error SDP #119) or other reason, the service provider can repeat write-off transactions only in: 3 hours; 12 Hours; 1 day (24 hours); 3 days; 1 week." e.g. this differs from Beeline as you can only attempt up to a week later.
Beeline and MTS Flow and Rules:
Please speak to your account manager for rate card for MT billed lines on MTS and Beeline. As per the MTS subscription guidelines document:
‐ What is the standard end user MO rate? ‐ Typical non‐premium end‐user MO SMS charge $0.03‐0.06
‐ What is the standard end user MT rate? ‐ Zero
Shortcode and Keyword Structure
Shortcodes are 4 digits. When operating on a shared code keywords must be in native language and characters, however the English translation of that keyword is normally assigned also, but you must advertise the Russian.
Coverage of DOB in Russia
This billing is available for all pre-paid users of 4 largest Russian carriers MTS, MegaFon, Beeline and TELE2. The great majority of Russian mobile users are pre-paid users. And even those who are post-paid usually have 2nd sim card for payments and other interactions forbidden for post-paid users. So audience of DCB in Russia is little bit less than audience of Premium SMS because of -1. post-paid users banned in DCB -2. Little regional Carriers which haven't implemented DCB yet, but that doesn't generate noticeable losses.
Why is post pay banned for DCB?
DCB is only for pre-paid users to avoid ANY fraud in this billing because DCB operates with huge amounts. In Premium SMS users in Russia can be charged up to ~ 200 RUB, and in DCB up to 5,000 RUB. So, it’s important for Mobile Carriers in Russia to resist any fraud risks. We have 0% fraud in DCB which is one more pleasant factor for our partners.
Do users with not enough credit get a message telling them this?
Yes and in some other cases as well. E.g. The user has already spent XXX RUB in a reporting month and he wants to make one more purchase. In certain cases he will be reported that charging via DCB is closed for him till next reporting month. This is anti-fraud measure as well.
What are the statistics of post pay vs pre pay % in the market?
90% pre-paid and 10% post-paid but almost all post-paid users have pre-paid sim card as well for DCB and some other mobile services which are forbidden for post-paid.
Do Russian users know that post-paid cannot use groupon services? Is it a common thing to know?
Yes, this is common thing for Russia, 100%. And if any users don’t know they will be guided by SMS from Carriers when try to pay.
The current rate of tax in Russia is available via Wikipedia.
The outpayments on our rate cards are exclusive of VAT, so if you are VAT registered you can claim a higher outpayment than is shown.
Dedicated codes are available in 3 - 6 months upon application approval by mobile operators. You can read more about Short Code Coverage, SMS Billing Services and Mobile Payments in Russia via the txtNation Gateway.
Russia has the following Mobile Payment options available, all of which fall under these regulations.
- Premium SMS (P-SMS) including Short Code services
Additional options for Mobile Payments and Messaging in Russia include:
- HLR Lookup
- Bulk SMS