Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts - Kazakhstan
In Kazakhstan the boom in uptake of mobile broadband is continuing
Although there had been a correction' in the number of mobile subscribers in Kazakhstan in 2013, the overall picture of the telecom market remains one of positive developments. Coming into 2014 mobile penetration had passed 180%; the country was also claiming an impressive figure of 54 internet users per 100 people. Most importantly, by early 2014 mobile broadband services comprised around one third of the total mobile subscriber base as this service platform continued on a rapid growth path. The country's healthy telecom market has come about on the back of a growing economy (despite the occasional setback) and a program of positive regulatory reform within the telecom sector. Legislation adopted in 2004 largely laid the foundation for liberalisation and development of the country's telecom industry and put an end to the monopoly enjoyed by Kazakhtelecom, the state-controlled telecom operator.
The rapid and successful development of telecommunications in the country encouraged a number of foreign companies both service providers and suppliers - to establish a presence in this emerging market. Since 1992, international operators and manufacturers have been active in Kazakhstan in providing services and installing state-of-the-art equipment, especially as part of the country's international telecom network. Companies such as Motorola, Lucent, Siemens, Alcatel, Nokia, Daewoo and Nortel Networks have all been active in the market. Recognising the long-term potential of this market, many foreign telecom companies have been looking to invest and form partnerships with local telecom enterprises.
By 2005 four private operators had been licensed to provide international and long-distance services in competition with the incumbent Kazakhtelecom. They were state-railway subsidiary TransTelecom, KazTransCom (a subsidiary of the national oil company), Ducat and Astel. In a rapid reshaping of the market, up to 1,500 new telecom service providers of various kinds had been licensed by 2005.
Kazakhstan has a relatively energetic fixed-line market with six operators providing fixed-line telephone services to about 4.5 million subscribers. There had been long waiting lists for fixed-line telephone services over the years. Despite the opening up of the market the bulk of the country's fixed services (93% in 2012) were being provided by Kazakhtelecom.
As already noted, of special note has been the healthy growth in internet activity in Kazakhstan, with the move to broadband access in particular taking place at a rapid rate. Fixed broadband subscribers as a proportion of the population had reached an encouraging level, with the market expected to continue its current expansion. By the same stage, however, fixed broadband was being completely overshadowed by the rapid mobile broadband expansion.
Despite the positive messages from the market, there remained some uncertainty around the industry. This was typified by the failure of the government to convince the WTO that it was ready for membership. In 2013 the WTO continued to express serious concerns about the absence of input and progress in a number of critical areas.
Note: It was difficult to obtain a full statistical picture of the internet market in Kazakhstan, with indicators often not being available or information conflicting.
After a decade of particularly strong expansion in Kazakhstan's mobile market, there has been a marked flattening' in the growth;
With mobile penetration over 180% in early 2014, the market was continuing to grow but was expected to saturate in terms of total subscribers over the next few years;
Broadband internet was quickly expanding on top of a general upturn in demand for internet services;
Mobile broadband made up one third of the total mobile subscriber base by early 2014;
There had been a significant shift to broadband access in 2009 and by 2014 the vast majority of internet subscribers were using broadband with only a handful using the remaining narrowband services.
Incumbent Kazakhtelecom continues to maintain a considerable presence across the market; however, this strong presence has not stopped the development of a generally diversified market that offers an energetic and competitive business environment, especially in the mobile sector;
GSM Kazakhstan (K'Cell) found itself engaged in a number of disputes with the telecom regulator and by early 2014 these appeared to be ongoing;
Altel launched a pilot LTE 4G network at end-2012, starting a major roll-out of the service;
In the meantime, Altel began progressively switching off its 3G network in 2013 as the LTE 4G roll out moved forward;
The KazSat-3 satellite was successfully launched in April 2014;
On the economic front, after Kazakhstan experienced an eight-year period in which GDP had been growing at an annual rate in excess of 8%, a major slowdown occurred in 2008/2009;
A modest but sustained recovery in the local economy was taking place in the short term; GDP growth of just under 5% was forecast by the IMF for both 2014 and 2015.
Kazakhstan key telecom parameters 2012 - 2014
Category | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 (e)
Subscriber penetration (population) | 27% | 27% | 27%
Fixed internet subscriber penetration (population) | 10% | 12% | 13%
Subscriber penetration (population) | 186% | 181% | 183%
This report provides an overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications markets in Kazakhstan.
Subjects covered include:
Market and industry overviews;
Internet market, including broadband;
Scenario forecasts for fixed-line, internet and mobile segments.
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