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 had the daunting task of bringing it up to modern standards. Despite the launch of 4G/LTE services, the overall the telecom sector has continued to struggle. Tajikistan still has one of the lowest fixed-line penetrations in the Asian region and one of the lowest broadband levels of broadband penetration.
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. However, as the market has moved closer to a saturation phase there has been an inevitable slowing in the growth rate. By the end of 2018 Tcell claimed to have the widest 4G coverage in Tajikistan, having reached seven major cities plus several other towns by the end of 2017. Moderate growth is predicted over the next five years to 2023. The market will be constrained from higher growth due to strong local competition and a further maturing market.
There are five major operators in the market: Tcell, Babilon Mobile, MegaFon, Tacom / Beeline and TK Mobile. Tcell has the largest overall market share, followed by Babilon Mobile, Megafon, Tacom / Beeline and TK Mobile.
VEON completed the sale of Tacom, to its local investment partner ZET Mobile Ltd. VEON had been looking at an exit from Tajikistan’s mobile sector since for some time over concerns at the country’s erratic taxation system, which had badly impacted on profitability in prior recent years.
Fixed broadband penetration in Tajikistan remains extremely low mainly due to a limited number of fixed lines as well as the dominance of the mobile platform. Market penetration has only grown marginally over the last five years from a very small base. Over the next five years to 2023 growth is expected to continue but overall market penetration will remain extremely low.
Tajikistan has seen a strong increase in mobile broadband penetration over the past four years however the mobile broadband market is still at an early stage of development and penetration remains relatively low compared to other Asian nations. Very strong growth is predicted over the next five years to 2023. The mobile broadband market will be driven by a rising level of mobile subscribers, increasingly faster speeds offered by the mobile operators as they roll out their 4G networks and improving tariffs due to strong competition.
Tajikistan is ranked 30th out of 34 with a Telecoms Maturity Index score of 9. This ranks Tajikistan fifth last in the “Market Laggards” category. (BuddeComm’s “Asian Telecoms Maturity Index”, is an index (on a scale between 0 and 100) that measures and ranks the relative maturity of the telecoms industry in all of the 34 countries in Asia). Compared to other Asian nations, Tajikistan has low to moderate mobile penetration and very low mobile broadband and fixed broadband penetration.
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Number of pages 81
Last updated 27 Nov 2018
Analyst: Phil Harpur
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