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iPad Sales to Start in November

MTS and VimpelCom say they’re preparing special new rates for iPad users. David Paul Morris

Sales of Apple's iPad will officially begin in Russia after the November holidays, and although mobile operators will not be selling the popular tablets independently, they are already planning special Internet rates.

Mobile TeleSystems and VimpelCom are preparing new rates for iPad users, spokeswomen for the two mobile operators, Irina Osadchaya and Anna Aibasheva, told Vedomosti.

The exact terms of the pricing have yet to be determined. MTS will offer an unlimited rate with payment charged from the user daily, Osadchaya said, adding that those terms were Apple's preference.

An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

MTS said its iPad plan would also take into account the services most frequently used on the device — sending e-mail, browsing the web and watching videos on YouTube. The tablet uses less data than mobile devices connecting by modem, Osadchaya said.

The unlimited iPad rate will include less traffic, but it will also be less expensive than modem-based mobile Internet plans. MTS' monthly rate for its MTS-Connect plan is 790 rubles ($26).

MegaFon is not preparing a special offer for iPad users. The company already has mobile Internet rates that are available for the microSIM cards used in Apple's tablet, spokeswoman Tatyana Ivanova said.

Sources at mobile device retailers said the basic iPad model, with a 16-gigabyte hard drive, would cost about 19,900 rubles ($650), while the 64-GB model would cost about 37,000 rubles ($1,200). That would be 30 percent and 46 percent higher than in the United States.

The 16-GB iPad will definitely cost no more than 20,000 rubles, one of Apple's partners in Russia said.

One Apple partner said the iPad would arrive in Russia after the long weekend celebrating National Unity Day on Nov. 4.

Mikhail Tach, executive vice president of mobile electronics retailer Svyaznoi, said he heard the tablet would arrive in mid-November.

Initially, the iPad will only be sold in three stores selected by Apple — Re:Store, Bely Veter Tsifrovoi, and M.Video.

Re:Store is registered as an Apple Premium Reseller, while the other two retailers have special departments dedicated to Apple's products.

Apple always begins sales of new products in authorized stores that have Wi-Fi connections and specially trained staff, a second partner of the U.S. technology giant said. The tablet could later be offered in additional chains, he said.

Spokespeople for MTS and VimpelCom, which operates the Beeline brand, said talks on iPad sales were under way. A source at one of the mobile operators said he hoped that the iPad would be available in his company's stores after the New Year's holiday.

Svyaznoi will not carry the iPad and is instead going to sell a rival tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Yevroset president Alexander Malis said the retailer was also holding talks with Apple. He said they were discussing whether the iPad would be in Yevroset stores from the first day of Russian sales or 30 days later. In any event, Yevroset will offer the iPad, Malis added.

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