TM-Cell will not connect new subscribers until May 2011 as demand surges

6 Apr 2011

Those Turkmen citizens looking to sign up with the country’s only remaining mobile network operator face a wait of at least a month as reports claim that distribution of SIM cards for the cellco has been temporarily suspended. According to the Turkish Weekly, TM-Cell, which offers services under the Altyn Asyr banner, has started issuing vouchers that can be used in the future to acquire a SIM card from the de-facto monopoly wireless provider, after the number of applications for new accounts has swelled in the wake of the state’s decision to not renew the licence of sole rival MTS Turkmenistan. It is understood that at present only public officials or foreign nationals are being issued SIM cards by TM-Cell, with other potential customers told that they will be connected in May 2011. Such is the scope of the demand for service that the report claims that in the country’s larger cities military forces have been called in to assist with keeping order among crowds of people seeking to acquire a mobile voice connection.

The development comes hot on the heels of reports last week which alleged that Turkmen president Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov had claimed that ‘bungling’ at the operations of TM-Cell was harming the efficiency of the state-owned cellco. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, TM-Cell had an estimated subscriber base of 610,000 at the end of 2010, less than a quarter of the 2.7 million former MTS customers that are now seeking service from the only cellco in operation.

Turkmenistan, MTS Turkmenistan (formerly BCTI), TM-Cell (Altyn Asyr),

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