Kazakhstan’s state-owned CDMA operator Altel has enlisted St Petersburg-based Bercut, an international provider of end-to-end telecom solutions, to supply it with the software required to roll out its mooted Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, the vendor has announced. As per the terms of the contract, Bercut has agreed to implement the mechanism of charging for data transmission and LTE subscriber services. In addition, Bercut will provide an interface to the advanced end-to-end ‘WeTree’ Service-Orientated Architecture (SOA) platform, which will allow Altel to create and introduce new services rapidly. According to Bercut’s press release, Altel, somewhat ambitiously, expects the introduction of LTE to help grow its subscriber base to around four million users; as at 31 March 2012 the operator claimed a subscriber base of just 1.351 million, equivalent to a market share of 6%.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in May this year Kazakhstan’s minister of communications Askar Zhumagaliyev confirmed that preparations for the introduction of LTE services would get under way this year, with a view to the country’s cellcos launching commercial offerings in Almaty and Astana in 2013. Going forward, LTE technology should be prevalent in all regional centres by 2014, with all municipalities with a population of over 50,000 earmarked for connectivity by 2015. The remainder of the country can expect to witness the introduction of LTE by 2018. Interestingly, Zhumagaliyev has indicated that the introduction of 4G will be overseen by state-owned fixed line operator Kazakhtelecom (KT) – the owner of Altel – with no other telcos namechecked. KT currently has a limited presence in the wireless sector through Altel, after taking steps to reduce its presence in the mobile market in recent years. KT has also previously held stakes in market leader GSM Kazakhstan (K’cell, 49%) and NeoTelecom (now Tele2 Kazakhstan, 51%), only to divest its shareholdings to Scandinavian firms TeliaSonera and Tele2 respectively.