KEEN & CABLE

Kazakhstan 2016 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Andrey V. Khan, General Director of KazTransCom, on plans to roll out a countrywide fiber-optical network.

Andrey V. Khan
BIOGRAPHY
Andrey V. Khan studied at the Taganrog University of Radio Engingeering before joining KazTransCom in 2001 as the director of the finance department. Between 2002 and 2004 he completed his MBA in corporate management from the International Academy of Business. He became the Chief Executive Director of KazTransCom in 2013.

How would you describe KazTransCom's evolution since it entered the Kazakhstani market?

KazTransCom was founded on the basis of the state oil holding company's communications agency Kaspiy Munay Bailynaz (KMUB). It rendered technical services to the communication structure that ran along the oil pipeline in western Kazakhstan. In 2001, there was a merger of the telecoms operators in the oil and gas sector. AktyubNefteSvyaz in Aktyubinsk merged with KMUB in Atyrau. By 2002, we had affiliated with Kazakhstan's entire telecommunications structure of gas pipelines. In 2004, the number of staff in the company reached 1,500, and the turnover was approximately $30 million. That same year we issued bonds for $20 million and started actively building fiber-optic networks throughout Kazakhstan. From 2005, the company began to grow rapidly as one of the leading telecommunications operators. We built a backbone in Astana, Atyrau, Aktau, Aktyubinsk, and Uralsk that runs through every major city of Kazakhstan. We are represented in seven large cities, covering almost 80% of the telecommunications market. Our market share in the B2B oil and gas sector of western Kazakhstan is more than 30%. Today, we see B2B and corporate clients as our main strategic market segment. The company continues building its own cable routes, and by the end of 2016 we plan to connect seven cities. It will basically be a transit route going from China toward Russia and Europe. We also have our own satellite network, comprised of more than 300 satellite communication terminals. Our competitive strength is in our highly skilled professionals, who are located every 200-300km along the oil and gas pipelines. Because of that, we are able to promptly respond to any emergency and offer high-quality service to our clients. Our strategy today is aimed at an individual approach to every customer. Unlike our competitors, we create the right, effective solutions for the corporate segment that are adapted to every client.

What are your development and investment plans in the short to medium term?

According to the latest marketing surveys, we have jumped from fourth to third place by market share (fixed telecom market) in the ranking of Kazakhstan's operators. Our plans include the construction of a countrywide fiber-optics network. We will focus on the international market, making use of Kazakhstan's transit potential and creating transit channels with other countries. Right now, we cover 20% of the wholesale internet market in Kyrgyzstan. We also provide telecommunication services in Tajikistan, by the way of Uzbekistan. We have major plans for the development of the corporate segment, Almaty being one of our major targets. Almaty represents about 50% of the telecoms market in Kazakhstan. It has the most competitive market, with over 20 active operators. But thanks to our strategy and the new services that we plan to launch this year, we will easily increase our share. We plan to reach 15% of the Almaty market over the next five years.

What investment plans do you have for 2016?

The year 2016-2018 will be a pivotal year, as our entire cable network will be finished. We will bring our major project to an end. Today, we are the only company with telecommunications projects of this scale for 2016-2018. We are basically building a network that will stretch from the East to the West of Kazakhstan, thus providing commissions to construction companies and giving jobs to people. Our strategy is that in a down economy you need to build infrastructure, which is what we are doing. As of today, we have the lowest construction prices for this cable route. We see the crisis as a great opportunity to win ourselves a market share: we supply the business with sound, effective solutions, which makes us more attractive to clients in the time of crisis. In 2016 our Main City Net (MCNet) project will be completed, connecting all the major cities.