Russia's MTS cut off in Turkmenistan, suspends mobile service

MOSCOW, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Russia’s top mobile phone operator MTS said on Friday it had been forced to suspend services in the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan after the state telecoms provider cut it off from its network.

MTS, part of the Sistema conglomerate, said state-owned telecommunication company Turkmentelekom had stopped providing it with its international and long-distance zonal communication services and Internet access.

“MTS ... is currently negotiating with the Turkmenistan regulatory authorities in order to obtain permission to use frequencies, as well as to obtain other resources, necessary to provide telecommunication services,” MTS said in a statement.

Turkmentelekom declined to comment.

MTS had 1.7 million subscribers in Turkmenistan at the end of June, and the unit contributes just over 1 percent of the group’s total revenue.

MTS had to quit Turkmenistan in 2010 when its licence was suspended for reasons that the company said “were never fully justified”, writing off about $140 million.

It returned to the Turkmen market in 2012. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; additional reporting by Marat Gurt in Ashgabat; editing by Alexander Smith)