View of Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan: Huawei to launch 5G network in 2021

Huawei has finished the 5G integration process in Kazakhstan, in commercial partnership with Beeline, the biggest independent mobile phone operator in the country. The Chinese company wants to set up a pilot project in Nur-Sultan in 2021, before extending coverage to the rest of the country by 2025.

This article was originally published on Novastan’s French website on 19 March 2021.

Huawei is setting off to conquer Kazakhstan. The Chinese telecoms company has been chosen by the Kazakh authorities to launch a 5G trial network in the capital Nur-Sultan from 2021, the Kazakh media outlet Tengrinews reports. It will later expand to other large cities. After this, the aim is to cover “all the regional centres by 2025,” Ashat Orazbek, Kazakhstan’s deputy minister for digital development, said.

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Orazbek reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s intention to be one of the first ten countries to roll out 5G, modernising the country “step by step”. The deployment of the Huawei 5G network in other large cities will take place in 2022, first in Shymkent and then in Almaty, the former capital and largest city. The market will be open to competition in accordance with current legislation on the award of public contracts.

Kazakhstan’s president, Qasym-Jomart Toqaev, has also expressed a commitment to developing digital infrastructure: “It is necessary to eliminate digital inequalities, to guarantee maximal access to the internet and high-quality communication for all citizens,” he said in a speech on 1 September 2020.

Kazakhstan’s telecommunications sector

The pilot project is currently being carried out with Beeline Kazakstan, the Kazakh subsidiary of the Dutch telecommunications group Veon. “The first phase of the project is still in progress, data transmission is being tested. In the second phase, augmented and virtual reality will be tested, as well as cloud gaming,” Huawei stated.

Two years after its first tests of 5G reported by the Azerbaijani news site Caspian News, Kazakhstan has become the one of the most advanced Central Asian countries in the telecommunications sector, with a very competitive market with three main mobile telephone operators: Beeline, Kcell and Kazakhtelecom.

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are also testing 5G. Notably, the operator Ucell is testing 15 5G base stations in the Uzbek capital Tashkent, the Uzbek news site Uzdaily reports. As for Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, they haven’t done any tests so far.

François Garijo

Translated from French by Rhys Collins

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