Broadband on the rise in Kazakhstan, but Turkmenistan lags behind

 

 

With many markets in Central Asia acting as test-beds of sorts for new technologies, BMI has catalogued the more recent developments in the mobile and internet sectors of the region...

With many markets in Central Asia acting as test-beds of sorts for new technologies, BMI has catalogued the more recent developments in the mobile and internet sectors of the region.

Of all of Central Asia’s markets, Kazakhstan has the most sophisticated fixed broadband sector. A number of operators are investing in the development of optical fibre (FTTx) services and are forging ahead with plans to introduce advanced IP services such as IPTV. For example, Russia's VimpelCom has announced plans to run a commercial IPTV pilot in Kazakhstan before the end of 2011. VimpelCom, which operates in Kazakhstan under the Beeline brand, will use an IPTV platform provided by China's ZTE Corp.

Key regional developments within the past three months include the announcement that Nordic operator TeliaSonera and Kazakh fixed-line operator Kazakhtelecom had signed a legally binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) relating to an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of K-Cell, Kazakhstan's largest mobile operator by subscribers. K-Cell is a joint venture between Fintur Holdings (with a 51% stake) and Kazakhtelecom (with 49%).

Meanwhile, Fintur Holdings is owned by TeliaSonera (58.55%) and Turkey's Turkcell (with a 41.45% interest). As detailed in the MoU, Kazakhtelecom will list all of its shares in the aforementioned IPO, apart from a 24% plus one share, which will be acquired by TeliaSonera either directly or through Fintur Holdings. The IPO has been approved by the Kazakh government as a way of aiding the development of the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE).

Other notable regional developments include the news that Russian mobile operator MegaFon planned to rebrand its Tajik subsidiary MLT as MegaFon Tajikistan from July 2011. MegaFon owns 75% of MLT, with the remaining 25% interest being held by state-owned operator Tajiktelecom. The Russian operator's investment in MLT has totalled US$100mn over the past three years. Meanwhile, Stockholm-based TeliaSonera has unveiled plans to bring all of its subsidiaries under one brand, while maintaining their current brand names.

Turkmenistan's largest mobile operator, MTS Turkmenistan, remains offline, with no data reported for the operator. Faced with the closure of MTS' network, it appears that the majority of Turkmenistan's mobile subscribers have had to seek SIM cards provided by the country's sole remaining operator Altyn Asyr. The latter, which operates in the country under the TM-Cell brand, is now the de-facto monopoly mobile voice provider in Turkmenistan.

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