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.

Penetration rates have actually declined in the past year or two due to market consolidation. Market penetration was around 158% in 2015.

Internet user penetration has reached over 50% and mobile broadband market penetration by late 2015 was over 60%
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.

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.

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.

Kazakhstan has a relatively energetic fixed-line market with six operators providing fixed-line telephone services. 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. The WTO continued to express serious concerns about the absence of input and progress in a number of critical areas.

In early 2015 the government was in the process of pushing through legislation to pave the way for number portability later in 2015.

For more information see - Kazakhstan - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband