Policy Spotlight: Uzbekistan

Every year we present the GSMA Government Leadership Award to one government that has implemented best-practice digital policy and telecom regulation to generate positive outcomes in mobile connectivity. The winner will be announced at the GSMA Ministerial Programme during MWC Barcelona. In the following weeks, we will alphabetically present the five shortlisted countries for the 2023 Government Leadership Award. The fourth nominated country is Uzbekistan.

Market context

In the last couple of years, Uzbekistan has made great strides as it aims to become a digital leader in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region. At the end of 2020, the country launched the “Digital Uzbekistan – 2030” programme, which aims to provide high-quality and inexpensive Internet and mobile communications services, reducing the digital divide between cities and villages.

As part of the programme, all mandatory payments are made through the provided online payment services. More than 400 information systems, electronic services and other software products in various areas of socio-economic development are also carried out automatically.

The development of the e-government system is also considered one of the priority areas of digital reforms, which will allow for the reform of activities carried out by public authorities and administrations.

Policy or regulatory actions 

Digital reform

The development of the e-government system in Uzbekistan is considered one of the priority areas of digital reforms, which will allow qualitatively reform of the activities of public authorities and administration. Large-scale e-reforms in the public sector cover all areas of activity without exception, with the broad involvement of ministries and departments.

5G spectrum

As the first country in the CIS region, Uzbekistan released spectrum for 5G. A total of 300 MHz has been allocated to three mobile operators in the 3.5 GHz range, giving them 100 MHz of mid-band spectrum each.

Low-band spectrum

Currently, Uzbekistan is promoting the release of the 700 MHz band in the Central Asian region. The result of this work was the signing of the protocol on facilitation of the release of the radio frequency band 694-862 MHz from terrestrial digital television broadcasting from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Rural coverage

With a Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the country introduced spectrum and infrastructure sharing. Telecom equipment in rural areas has also been exempted from property tax for legal entities and land tax from legal entities. The goal of these measures is to allow mobile operators to expand coverage in a cost-efficient way, which is especially useful in rural areas.

Climate action

In recent years, Uzbekistan has adopted several documents defining national policies and measures to mitigate climate change. To ensure the fulfilment of obligations, it has developed and approved the “Strategy for the transition of the Republic of Uzbekistan to a green economy for 2019-2030.” This work includes using mobile technology to monitor environmental pollution, water quality, and waste processing.

Why it is good practice

In the past two years, even in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, large-scale digital reforms have been carried out in the country. The importance of measures for the widespread introduction of digital technologies in the field of public administration, public services, and trade has been demonstrated, according to the Uzbek government. The country’s approach to policymaking highlights the need to examine how connectivity and digital services can positively impact all aspects of society. In the case of mobile operators, this starts with providing the building blocks needed to offer mobile broadband in cities and rural areas. But also include services and an approach to creating a more environmentally sustainable future.