Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/22/2012 -- BMI's Q312 report on the telecoms markets of Kazakhstan and its four Central Asian neighbours provides analysis of the latest trends and developments in the region and individual markets, as well as analysing the latest mobile subscriber data for the three months ending March 31 2012. In light of new developments and data, we have made minor adjustments to several of our five-year forecasts through to 2016. Over the medium term we expect the region's mobile markets will continue to grow, although we expect additions to slow in the latter part of the forecast period as a number of the region's markets see a slowdown when their mobile markets reach maturity.
A significant exception to this regional view is the Turkmen mobile market, which we expect to grow more rapidly. This is a marked shift from the Q212 update, where we forecast sustained sluggish growth as a result of the expulsion of MTS, which operated under the brand Barash Communications, leaving only the state-owned monopoly Altyn Asyr. We based our previous forecast on press reports of the inability of Altyn Asyr to meet demand for services, with SIM card issuance restricted to foreigners and government officials.
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However, press reports in May 2012 state that the remaining monopoly mobile operator Altyn Asyr had just 1.5mn registered subscribers at YE11 - lower than our previous estimate. Further, it appears the failure to adequately meet demand resulted in political pressure, and it was announced that MTS would resume operations. MTS is set to return to the market, expected in July 2012, resulting in an upgrade to our forecast. As well as injecting a dynamic of competition and bringing technical and customer service best practice from its international operations, BMI expects growth to be very high in H212 on the basis of reports that MTS did not disassemble its network following the revocation of its licence. As such we expect it to be able to absorb large numbers of subscribers in H212. We now forecast 2.299mn mobile subscribers at YE12, equivalent to a penetration rate of 44.5%.
Beyond Turkmenistan the most significant developments occurred in broadband markets. In Kazakhstan, Minister of Communications Askar Zhumagaliyev was quoted in September 2011 as stating that LTEsuitable frequencies would be made available free of charge to companies willing to invest in the deployment of 4G LTE infrastructure. However, the incumbent, Kazakhtelecom, was reported to be the only operator licensed to supply LTE services at the time of writing. Commercial services are scheduled to be introduced in Almaty and Astana in 2013, with implementation of the LTE technology across all regional centres by 2014, Zhumagaliyev added. Further, municipalities having a population of more than 50,000 will be connected by 2015, while the rest of the country can expect connection by 2018.
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