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Kazakh PM: necessary to ensure fulfilment of obligations by telecom operators, preventing price collusion and unjustified tariff increases

Kazakh PM: necessary to ensure fulfilment of obligations by telecom operators, preventing price collusion and unjustified tariff increases
Фото: primeminister.kz 18.06.2024 16:31 614

The Government session chaired by Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Olzhas Bektenov considered the issues of improving the quality of Internet and mobile communications in Kazakhstan. Minister of Digital Development, Innovation and Aerospace Industry Zhaslan Madiev, Chairman of Kazakhtelecom JSC Bagdat Mussin, akims of a number of regions made a report, El.kz cites primeminister.kz.

National Project "Affordable Internet" was adopted last year to provide the population of Kazakhstan with quality communications. As a result of implementation of all the measures, by 2027 the coverage of settlements and roads with communication networks will reach 100%.

Now the share of the country's population using the Internet is at the level of developed countries. Traffic growth has increased by 61.5 per cent and the number of subscribers by 12.9 per cent against 2020. According to Speedtest Ookla, Kazakhstan ranks 66th in the world in terms of average Internet speed (43.6 Mbps).

At the Government session considered the issue of accessibility of communication in rural areas. Thus, the optics to date brought to 2,606 of 6,290 villages, mobile Internet is available to residents of 4,866 settlements. Within the framework of existing tax incentives, 1161 villages will be connected to 4G technology in 2023. 

According to the licence obligations of telecom operators, it is planned to provide 1,076 villages with telecommunications. Within the framework of the National Project it is envisaged to bring optical communication lines through PPP mechanism to 3010 villages. The projects are expected to provide Internet access to 2.4 million people. All projects envisage attracting private investments from telecom operators in the amount of more than 340 billion tenge. 

The country has installed 1,144 5G base stations in 20 cities. Work will continue to expand 5G coverage in the cities of Astana, Almaty, Shymkent and regional centres. In general, more than 450 billion tenge will be invested in the telecommunications industry by the end of 2027 by mobile operators. 

Head of the Government stressed that high-speed Internet is the basis of digitalisation, and increasing the volume of communication services is one of the important aspects of economic growth. At the same time, the population should be provided with high-speed Internet at least 100 Mbit/s. The importance of quality cellular communication and mobile Internet on the republican and main regional roads was also noted.

Olzhas Bektenov emphasised the quality of communication and Internet in Kazakhstan. Only last year about 21 thousand appeals from citizens were received on this issue, and for 5 months of the current year complaints were about 11 thousand. 

This problem affects not only remote settlements, but also large cities and border points. It is instructed to solve these issues without delay and modernise the existing infrastructure. 

"The periodic increase in the cost of tariffs of operators deserves special attention. As you know, state regulation of tariffs for communication services has been cancelled in order to promote competition. It is competition that should become the main regulator. So far this is not happening - all operators have approximately the same rates. In addition, the Tax Code provides for a 90% discount for operators on radio frequency spectrum. At the same time, in accordance with the licence obligations, operators must invest the saved funds in the development of communication infrastructure. The Ministry together with the antimonopoly authority needs to ensure that operators fulfil their obligations in full, prevent price collusions and unjustified tariff increases," Olzhas Bektenov said.

Kazakhstan is implementing major projects to lay a fibre-optic route along the Caspian Sea bed from the west to the east of the country. The domestic operator is Kazakhtelecom JSC. It was noted that the implementation of the project will increase the country's share in the transit of data between Europe and Asia, as well as attract large Big Tech-companies and increase the level of content provided, which in turn will bring a multiplier effect for the country.

Olzhas Bektenov emphasised that the implementation of such important projects should be under special control of the relevant ministry.

As a result of consideration of the issue of quality of Internet and communications in Kazakhstan, Prime Minister gave a number of specific instructions to government agencies: 

  • The Ministry of Digital Development together with regional Akimats at the initial stage within three months to conduct an analysis to identify "white spots" in regional centres and develop a clear action plan to improve the quality of mobile communication services. Further, it is necessary to scale the work across all settlements, taking into account incoming appeals from citizens. 
  • Systematise the issue of fulfilling licensing obligations by telecom operators. The Ministry of Digital Development together with telecom operators should approve within two months a plan for the installation of new 4G base stations and replacement of obsolete fixed Internet equipment, based on the assigned obligations.
  • During the flood situation in a number of regions there was no communication due to power supply problems and base stations shutdown. The Ministry of Digital Development together with the National Security Committee should consider the possibility of using satellite communication systems during emergencies within a month.
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