State-backed telco Uzbektelecom has announced that it will use the frequencies relinquished by defunct operator MTS Uzbekistan to deploy its own GSM network, UzDaily writes. The telco, which currently offers wireless services via its ‘Uzmobile’ unit, will continue to operate its existing CDMA-450 network in parallel with the new GSM platform.
Rollout will start this year with the deployment of 1,020 base stations in Tashkent, along with 500 sets of radio relay equipment, a communication station and a billing system for two million numbers. In 2015 Uzmobile plans to install a further 1,994 towers to cover the regional centres of Uzbekistan, whilst capacity will be increased to eight million lines. A third phase, to be completed by the end of 2017, will see Uzmobile install 3,986 more base stations to cover the nation’s other towns and villages. These will be supported by stand-alone solar power generators to limit the dependence on expensive local petrol generators in remote areas.
The announcement follows the signing of a new resolution by President Karimov on 12 February to improve mobile communication in the country and to ensure information security. The resolution will establish a new as-yet-unnamed subsidiary of Uzbektelecom, which will be tasked with handling the new GSM network with a view to providing wireless voice, data, mobile TV and mobile financial services nationwide, including in remote areas. Uzbektelecom has been exempted from paying customs duties for the import of equipment for the new operator, and will not be required to pay state duties for issuance of licences for design, construction and use of mobile infrastructure. The cellco is also exempt from paying licence fees for spectrum usage, although the funds made available by these exemptions should be used to bankroll the network rollout. Further funding for the deployment will be covered by loans from Uzbek banks, whilst soft long-term loans will be sought from foreign banks and financial institutions.