Connectivity in Kazakhstan: From Spectrum Access to Investment Incentives

The development of mobile connectivity in the Republic of Kazakhstan has helped drive widespread access to the Internet. To build on this momentum, operators are working to expand coverage and increase capacity, and preparations are underway to launch 5G networks. However, policies based on regulatory best practices are essential to maximise this opportunity.

To further incentivise the development of mobile networks in the Republic of Kazakhstan, it is necessary to establish a favourable regulatory framework, as well as measures to attract investments in network deployment.

A new report from the GSMA looks in-depth at what should come next:

Ensuring access to new frequency bands without imposing economically unjustified obligations and high spectrum prices is necessary for any country that wants to encourage the rollout of high-quality networks. Increased traffic requires more mid-band spectrum, primarily in the lower 3.5 GHz range (3.3-3.8 GHz) band with 100 MHz channels. To provide coverage and digital equality, more low-band spectrum is also needed. Here there is an opportunity to make better use of the 700 MHz range (694-790 MHz).

Electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure limits should be harmonized to the latest international guidelines and the process of obtaining permits streamlined. This would reduce antenna compliance zones by a factor of ten. Also, compliance assessment methods should be updated to improve accuracy and remove significant overestimation of the EMF levels when compared to actual measurements.

Simplification of mobile network deployment rules
With the densification of networks and the development of higher and higher frequency bands, the administrative and financial burden of lengthy permits procedures becomes a serious obstacle to network development. Areas where there is room for simplification include:
• How licenses for the construction of a new communication facility are obtained.
• How permits to install a base station on existing infrastructure are obtained.
• How access to infrastructure owned by the state and municipalities is ensured.

Creating an enabling environment for investment
For mobile operators to be able to invest in 4G network expansion, 5G networks and the development of modern services, favourable investment conditions are needed. Taking into account the importance of having a digital infrastructure for the further digitalisation of the economy of Kazakhstan, the following efforts should be prioritised:
• The review of tariff regulation.
• The review of coverage obligations.
• The introduction of tax benefits.
• Further measures for rural infrastructure development.

The “Regulatory best practices for mobile network development in the Republic of Kazakhstan” report offers more detail on all these topics, considering international experience and the national specifics of mobile industry regulation. The report is available here in English and here is Russian.