Making Central Asia
central to Asia’s Internet
Abu Saeed Khan
Senior Policy Fellow
@ High-level Regional Roundtable on
Telecommunications Connectivity in Central Asia
June 3, 2014
Postcard from Africa (1)
• In Africa, 35 of the 48 countries have
no competition among national fiber
• Eight have limited competition – that
is, two providers besides the mobile
companies, usually the incumbent
fixed-line operator and either the
government or the electricity
• Only five countries (Kenya, Nigeria,
South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe)
can be said to have effective
competition among multiple players.
In countries that lack effective competition,
fiber connectivity in cities that are far
removed from submarine cable landing
stations often costs five or six times as
Source: Analysys Mason, April 2014 much as it does at the landing station
Postcard from Africa (2)
Source: Analysys Mason, April 2014
Problems in Africa’s terrestrial networks
• Fiber not being buried deep enough
– Frequent physical damage (accidental and deliberate).
• Poor quality splicing
– Intermittent faults and reduction in throughput
• Poor maintenance of manholes
– Leads to flooding and cable damage.
• Poor systems and processes for fault management
– Sometimes the maintenance companies deliberately
sabotage cables to create work for themselves.
Source: Philip Bates, Analysys Mason, April 2014
The Internet of Kazahkstan is served by numerous providers. Kazakhtelecom is the dominant
incumbent while smaller ISPs such as Asket, Smartnet and Orbita-Plus are competing. Nearly
all international transit for Kazakhstan comes through Russia, specifically from the major
Russian providers (Rostelecom, Transtelecom, RETN, Megafon and Vimpelcom).
The Internet of Kyrgyzstan is served by several providers including incumbent KyrgyzTelecom
and mobile providers SkyMobile and Megacom. International transit primarily comes through
Kazakh providers Kaztranscom and Kazakhtelecom.
Turkmenistan is, by far, the smallest of the Internets in central Asia. All connections to the
outside world go through TurkmenTelecom. When TurkmenTelecom suffers an outage, as it did
earlier this year, the country is completely without Internet service.
Tajikistan is served by a handful of providers including incumbent Tojiktelecom, and
Tajikistan's largest mobile provider Babilon-T. Tajikistan gets international transit through
Kyrgyzstan, Kazahkstan and Russia. In recent years, Tojiktelecom used a connection through
China, but it isn't visible currently.
All connections within and outside Uzbekistan must
pass through Uzbektelecom. Such centrality makes
Uzbekistan’s Internet fragile. Source: Renesys Corp.
>$100 >$100 >$100 >$100
Uzbekistan: Wholesale IP transit
price/Mbps/month in Q4 2013 (Terabit Consulting)
"Beeline is offering LTE for USD1,200 per month, including
unlimited data usage, 1,000 minutes of calls and 1,000 SMS to
all networks in Uzbekistan. The price tag puts the service well
out of reach of most, with a typical graduate salary in
Uzbekistan netting less than USD400 per
month." Commsupdate, Sept. 5, 2014.
Uzbekistan: An unfinished revolution
• December 10, 2004: Uzbekenergo and Uzbekistan
Railway were granted licenses for five years to “provide
long distance telecommunication services” ensuring
“access to its networks for other operators and
providers on equal terms”.
• November 4, 2009: Both the licenses were extended for
further five years (i.e., until December 12, 2014).
• Neither of the license is yet to be functional!
What’s the status of remaining Central Asia?
Cross-border multi-sector infrastructure
sharing by the oil-rich countries
Terrestrial System (MEETS)
connectivity between the
U.A.E., Qatar, Bahrain, and
Kuwait over a fiber pair
acquired from the power
grid of GCC Interconnection
First phase RFS is Q3 2014
at a cost of $36 million.
The second phase would
extend connectivity to
Turkey via Iraq. The
include du, Vodafone Qatar,
Zajil, and Zain.
Investing in Different Network Layers
Source: The state of Broadband 2012: Achieving digital inclusion for all. ITU/UNESCO