KazakhTelecom is the operator of the national data transfer network, which connects the major cities of Kazakhstan with a total bandwidth of 957 Mbit/s and carrying capacity in separate local segments of up to 10 Gbit/s. KazakhTelecom had about 2.5 million fixed-line subscribers in 2005 and accounted for approximately 90 percent of the countryвЂ™s fixed-line market. It also controls 49 percent of the countryвЂ™s leading mobile operator, GSM Kazakhstan, and 50 percent of another cellular operator, Altel. KazakhTelecom
Liberalization of the telecommunications market in 2004 increased competition among the five licensed operators: KazakhTelecom (the former state monopoly, now with 51 percent state participation), Transtelecom, Kaztranscom, Arna (DUCAT), and Astel. The first-tier ISPs with international Internet connections and their own infrastructure are KazakhTelecom, Nursat, Transtelecom, Kaztranscom, Arna, Astel, and TNS Plus.
There are approximately 100 second-tier ISPs that are purchasing Internet traffic from the first-tier ISPs. They include:
- Kcell (3G)
- INTELSOFT (cable)
- AlmaTV (cable access)
- Beeline (3G, cable)
- DigitalTV (WiMax)
- Jet3G (3G)
- SputTV (satellite access)
- 2Day telecom (Dial-UP)
Market liberalization has not been completely carried out, as there are restrictions on foreign ownership for fixed-line operators providing long-distance and international services. In addition, KazakhTelecom retains dominance over the telecommunications market, making it difficult for other operators to compete.
KazakhTelecom is also launching an interactive IP TV service (11 of March 2009), as it attempts to maintain its dominance in the fixed-line market. Other leading first-tier ISPs, Nursat and Astel, operate terrestrial and satellite-based infrastructure. There are five mobile operators in the country. Three operators are offering GSM services and two CDMA. The government estimates that 60 percent of the population uses mobile services.
One of the largest ISPs, Arna (DUCAT), accused KazakhTelecom of breaching the Law for Promoting Competition and Limiting Monopolist Activities. Arna claimed that KazakhTelecom used uncertified systems that monitor and interfere with the telecommunications of customers who are using services offered by competing companies. An investigation of the Kazakh government revealed that such systems indeed existed and were used by KazakhTelecom, but no evidence was found to prove KazakhTelecom was intentionally interfering with competitor activities.