Kazakhtelecom unveils 5G implementation roadmap

Kazakhstan’s state-backed operator Kazakhtelecom (KT) has published its roadmap for launching 5G in a bid to kick-start the digital transformation of the country’s economy.

CommsUpdate reports that the 5G Concept document was developed across 2021 and 2022 by KT under an agreement with the government, in line with a directive issued by the Prime Minister in May 2019 to create a plan for implementing 5G.

KT’s Chief Innovation Officer Nurlan Meirmanov claimed that the 5G Concept covers everything required to implement 5G, including allocating frequencies, boosting data speeds, economic impact, security, financing, regulation, and exploring how the population will react to the technology and its previously unavailable capabilities.

The document lays out several proposals for the use of different spectrum frequencies, as well as suggestions for reducing Kazakhstan’s dependence on network equipment manufactured overseas. This, it notes, would lower costs as well as encourage innovation from new vendors by changing Kazakhstan’s mindset of relying on imports.

Around 40 telecoms specialists contributed to the document, which proposes ideas including shutting down 2G and 3G networks, converting existing networks to virtual RAN (vRAN), and implementing Open RAN. 5G Concept outlines several routes for a gradual transition to Open RAN, detailing the resources and government support that would be required in each instance.

Kazakhstan is gearing up to hold an auction of 5G-ready 3.5GHz spectrum in line with its stated goal of launching 5G services in major cities by the end of 2022. In March this year, the Ministry of Justice suggested that auctions would be held before June, but the timeframe has evidently slipped. Nonetheless, operators – including KT’s mobile unit Kcell and its rival Tele2-Altel – are currently conducting 5G trials.