Strong growth continues in Tajikistan’s mobile market but the fixed broadband penetration remains very low
Of all the former Soviet republics, Tajikistan’s telecommunications infrastructure was arguably the least developed. With a telecom network that was near total collapse, the government has had the daunting task of bringing it up to modern standards. Telecommunications has become one of the most dynamically developing sectors within the Tajikistan economy. Although still inadequate, its contribution to the county’s GDP has been growing, as new and diversified technologies quickly become the norm. The state-owned incumbent operator, Tajiktelecom, continues to maintain a major presence in the market, providing local, long-distance and international telephone services throughout the country.
Tajikistan’s mobile sector has been on a strong growth path for over a decade. It continues to be the standout feature of the country’s telecom industry.
The mobile market grew very strongly a few years ago but growth has subsequently slowed down as the market reached a heightened state of maturity. Market growth had dropped below 5% by 2015. Mobile penetration passed the 100% milestone in 2015. By 2015 there were four major operators in the market: Tcell, Babilon Mobile, MegaFon and Tacom / Beeline. Tcell has the largest overall market share.
Despite the recent launch of 4G/LTE services, the overall the telecom sector has continued to struggle. Tajikistan has one of the lowest fixed-line teledensities in the region and one of the lowest broadband levels of broadband penetration. Most internet users in Tajikistan are young and access the internet through internet cafés close to schools and universities. Many internet cafés act as second-tier ISPs and buy their bandwidth from the first-level ISPs. Although fixed broadband market penetration is predicted to remain low over the next five years to 2021, an expanding internet user population is a positive sign for the country’s future. This has been helped by the increasingly widespread presence of mobile internet services.
Note: It is pointed out that there are considerable inconsistencies with the market statistics available for Tajikistan as well as the total absence of statistics for some indicators
- Coming into 2016 mobile services in Tajikistan had passed 100% penetration
- Fixed-line penetration in Tajikistan is minimal, with growth in this market remaining sluggish;
- Fixed broadband internet access was virtually non-existent, although mobile broadband is growing quickly;
- By 2016 MegaFon peak download speeds of 60Mbps are available over its 800MHz 4GLTE test network.
- In 2015 Babilon-Mobile opened a new branded retail outlet and services centre in the city of Dushanbe.
- Takom upgraded its network in 2015. The coverage of the 3G network expanded by 50 percent.
- MegaFon has expanded the coverage and capacity of its 3G network in the Penjikent municipality.
- During 2015 HD Voice services were launched in the Khatlon region.