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Kazakhstan Looks Towards Sweden’s Ericsson For A Boost In Broadband

By Aygul Ospanova January 23, 2020

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On Monday, officials from Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications company signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Almaty-based International Information Technology University to support a government-run program called Digital Kazakhstan through 5G technology.

Officials in Nur-Sultan are making a concerted push to accelerate the development of information technology (IT) projects in what is Central Asia’s wealthiest country, and they are looking to partner with Ericsson to make it happen.

On Monday, officials from the Swedish telecommunications company signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Almaty-based International Information Technology University to support a government-run program called Digital Kazakhstan through 5G technology. 

The partnership is poised to establish a research laboratory to study the fifth-generation wireless technology for digital cellular networks in Kazakhstan. Specialists from Ericsson will organize consultations and seminars for employees and students, and share their expertise and support the implementation of educational programs.

“Ericsson invests in the development of interns and graduates, as they are the future innovators. The agreement with the IT University is the next step in the development of telecommunications in Kazakhstan, which opens the door to the world of advanced technologies for young talents,’’ said Aydin Abzhanbekov, vice president and general director of Ericsson in Kazakhstan, according to a statement published to the company’s website.

International IT University, also known as the International University of Information Technologies, was established in 2009 in close collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania to train qualified communication specialists in Kazakhstan. Officials at the university believe the recent agreement with Ericsson will help students put their theoretical knowledge into practice using advanced technology.

Ericsson is one of the world’s leading providers of technology and services to telecom operators, and is considered a leader in 5G technology, with nearly 80 agreements signed across the globe and its equipment used within 24 commercial 5G networks, according to the company’s statement

“I find it’s a bit difficult to say that we’re behind when I see no one ahead of us,” Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm said Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, according to a report by CNBC

Last year, Ericsson inked a deal with the mobile operator Kazakhtelecom, to switch networks of Kazakh operators Kcell and Altel / Tele2 to 5G. The pilot project is designed to run between 2019 and 2021 and provides three phases of testing different 5G service scenarios, including fixed wireless access, enhanced broadband mobile communications, and machine-to-machine.

Months later, Kazakhstan launched 5G services in a pilot regime in Shymkent, the third most populous city in Kazakhstan, behind Almaty and Nur-Sultan. The network, however, was based on Nokia equipment and supported by Kazakhstan’s Beeline mobile phone operator. 

Meanwhile, the state-run program, which is expected to get a boost from the deal with Ericsson, benefited the country in the amount of about 714 billion tenge, or $1.8 billion. 

A $446 million state-wide plan known as “Digital Kazakhstan” prioritizes digital technologies, making them the underpinning of financial development. Officials in Nur-Sultan believe the initiative will help increase the efficiency and transparency of public administration, boost employment, improve the quality of education and healthcare, and improve Kazakhstan’s foreign investment climate. Since the program was launched in 2018, 50,000 jobs have been created and about $85 million in investments has flowed into the country. At the same time, the digital literacy rate has reached 79.6 percent, while 117 cities and 3,324 villages have been provided with broadband Internet access.