Slow growth in telecom services in Turkmenistan, a predominantly rural country and former Soviet republic, can be attributed to a large extent to the slow development of the private sector and state control over most economic activities.
Turkmen Telecom has been the primary provider of telecommunication services, and through a subsidiary, TM-Cell, it has been operating a GSM mobile network in competition with a private mobile operator, MTS Turkmenistan.
In 2019 Russia-based Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is said to have begun the process of dismantling its equipment in Turkmenistan with a view to fully withdrawing from the country.
Turkmenistan’s mobile market has experienced extraordinarily strong growth over 2007 to 2012 period. Over the 2013 to 2018 the mobile market increased at a much slower pace, as the market has moved closer to a saturation phase there has been an inevitable slowing in the growth rate. Slow growth is predicted over the next five years to 2023. The market will be constrained from higher growth due to a further maturing market.
Turkmenistan has experienced a number of problems relating to communications technology. Despite efforts to upgrade the country’s telecom infrastructure, the telephone network remained poorly developed and many villages have been left without telephone services. Fixed line penetration over the past four years has been increasing slowly from a relatively small base.
Fixed broadband penetration in Turkmenistan remains limited in scale and nature and extremely low mainly due to a limited number of fixed lines as well as the dominance of the mobile platform. Over the next five years to 2023 growth is expected to continue but overall market penetration will remain extremely low.
In 2018 the Turkmenistan President ordered the Turkmenistan Academy of Sciences to design the state programme 'Digital Turkmenistan'. The programme is planned to be focused on fostering the development of ICT in the country.
Turkmenistan 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.
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Last updated 18 Mar 2019
Analyst: Phil Harpur
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