Kazakh conglomerate Freedom Holding has confirmed its intent to enter the country’s mobile market with a 5G start-up player.
Earlier this month, the group’s founder and CEO Timur Turlov stated that he planned “to create a completely new mobile operator of the 5G standard within a few years”, although his statement did not offer any concrete details.
Kazakhstan’s Committee for Protection & Development of Competition (ZK) has now confirmed that Freedom Holding participated in the 5G spectrum auction conducted in December 2022, placing bids on 3600MHz-3800MHz licences via its subsidiary International Telecommunication Systems of Kazakhstan.
While this move increased the final cost of the licences, Freedom Holding was unsuccessful in its bids, losing out to a consortium consisting of Kcell and Tele2-Altel - both subsidiaries of state-backed Kazakhtelecom. The country’s largest operator by subscribers, Kar-Tel (Beeline), did not enter any bids.
CommsUpdate reports that Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Digital Development, Innovation & Aerospace is targeting the sale of addition 5G spectrum in 2024, giving Freedom another chance to obtain airwaves. However, in a recent interview with Forbes.kz, Tele2-Altel CEO Sergey Konkov said that he did not expect another 3.5GHz auction for around two years.
Whenever the next auction takes place, Kazakhstan’s antimonopoly committee has recommended restricting the amount of airwaves available to existing 5G licence holders Kcell and Tele2-Altel; previous comments from Vice Minister of Digital Development Askhat Orazbek have indicated that they may not be able to bid at all.