How we built and developed a cellular network in Kazakhstan: organization of communication in the mountains and steppes
Installation of one of the high-altitude base stations The
cellular network in Kazakhstan began to be built already in 1999. In August 2004, VimpelCom acquired KaR-Tel, and in April 2005 we officially became a Beeline for the entire market. 5 million subscribers gained in just two years. Since 2008, we have been providing services in the 1800 MHz band. The first to launch 3G at 2100 MHz. In Kazakhstan, there were no restrictions on frequencies as in the Russian Federation, so LTE-ready was immediately installed. The first LTE network was launched on December 1, 2010 in Astana and Almaty. Now our specialization is mobile Internet and broadband access.
Of the technical features of network development, the main factor is mountains. They occupy approximately 20% of the entire country. Many cities are on the side of the mountains, Almaty is one of them. On the other hand, another feature of the region is that most of the territory is occupied by steppes.
Organization of communication in difficult terrain
The Republic of Kazakhstan is located in the center of Eurasia and occupies the ninth place in the world in terms of area. The climate in Kazakhstan is moderately continental and relatively dry. In most of the republic, long winters and short summers, and only in the south, vice versa.
In summer, in the south, the temperature reaches 45–50 ° C, and in winter in the north it reaches -40 ° C. By the way, Astana is one of the coldest capitals in the world after Ulan Bator. Most of the territory is occupied by chernozems and serozems in desert regions. The soil is inactive and suitable for the construction of base stations and facilities on which equipment can be installed.
Our country is also located in a seismically active area, and tremors happen almost every month. I am glad that so far there have been no strong, destructive earthquakes, and we hope that there will not be any.
Work in the mountains is very difficult in terms of site installation. The requirements for planning are very high, various special equipment is needed, experience in the mountains is very important, because there are so many surprises. Fortunately, we had very experienced signalmen plus new equipment. On our account, by the way, one of the highest base stations in the CIS - it is located in the area of BAO (Big Almaty Lake).
On the other hand, if it’s already possible to "climb" higher, then you can put a fairly powerful block that will "cover" everything around the mountain. Perhaps this is one of the few examples where base stations are mounted immediately under the maximum signal power (in cities it just does not make sense because of the arising interference phenomena).
Hard-to-reach mounting points are mountains and foothill areas. In addition to delivery difficulties, there is a danger in installation, especially in winter, when the avalanche period is high.
First we go like this:
Then on a snowmobile in this terrain:
And here we are:
The main problems in the mountains, in addition to the difficulty of access, are overheating and icing of the BS. In the summer, in the steppe, the temperature can reach 50 degrees Celsius, and in winter, due to the cold gusty wind, it can drop to -50 C °. Oscillations of 100 degrees will not withstand all the iron. Therefore, special temperature control equipment is installed, which often takes much more power than telecommunication units.
In the steppes, base stations necessarily have autonomous power. If the generator’s fuel is running out, our engineers receive a signal about this and replenish supplies.
The total coverage in sparsely populated areas of Kazakhstan is about 90%. For obvious reasons, there is no coverage where population density is extremely low.
Satellite communications - a good way out where there is no highway
In large cities of Kazakhstan, the organization of our network has 100 percent coverage. Basically, base stations are installed on non-residential administrative buildings, metal structures, billboards and lighting masts.
We have 90% of all trunk routes in the country. Thus, customers are always in touch not only in the city or village, but also in the country on the road.
Again, from the peculiarities - more often than in the Russian Federation, there are facts of looting. In settlements where unemployment is high, our stations are an object that can be hacked for profit. In practice - they are trying to take the blocks to scrap.
Many modern architectural objects are built so that the installation of base stations on them can spoil the look. Therefore, at the time the construction of the facility is completed, Beeline Kazakhstan contractors begin negotiations with the construction company to install the equipment. For example, in the historic city of Turkestan, where the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasaui is located, base stations and repeaters were installed on lighting masts and billboards.
We have slightly more popular mobile base stations than in Russia. Frequency matching is somewhat easier, so we used them at the forefront when deploying the network. Now they are used mainly for various public events and in rare accidents. They are mounted on trucks.
We cover the network with all major cities, regional centers, urban-type settlements and, most importantly, roads between these points. At the moment, in cities and regional centers, we have 99 percent coverage of the third generation network with an Internet speed of up to 21.6 Mbit / s. In urban-type settlements and on highways between settlements, there is 85% coverage of 3G Beeline Kazakhstan network. 15% are deprived of high-speed Internet coverage due to the complexity of the landscape and the installation of equipment.
Beeline Kazakhstan is a Kazakhstan company. Almost all employees, including top management, are local. Most of the shareholders are from Kazakhstan. Therefore, it is relatively easy for us to develop a B2B direction, and generally communicate with subscribers. We are here for everyone, and people understand this very well.
When choosing an operator for a resident of the republic, the cost of services and coverage are very important. We provide the best offer and thanks to this we continue to build up our customer base. In large cities, traffic is consumed significantly more due to activity on the Internet and social networks.
Our assortment of tariff plans and Internet packages includes offers with free access to social networks (Facebook and VKontakte), the WhatsApp messenger and the YouTube video portal.
Ordinary household. If you agree with the owner about placing a BS nearby, he will be very helpful.
At the end of 2013, about 29 million cellular subscribers were registered in the country. At the same time, the population of Kazakhstan is just over 17 million people. Thus, the penetration of mobile communications is 172%, and in 2012 this indicator was at the level of 148%. Most subscribers have a second, and sometimes a third SIM card with an active number. Kazakhstan's telecom market is saturated. In the future, the number of SIM cards will grow tens of times, and according to some analysts, their penetration can reach 500%.
The elderly generation reacts to communication normally and does not lag behind the young. Many people over 60 years old started using touch phones, and some of them not only make calls and send messages, but also use the Internet and social networks.
Given the excellent cellular network coverage and the popularization of smartphones, the spread of landline landline phones is declining. At one time, payphones disappeared in the cities of Kazakhstan. Many subscribers admit that they have begun to use landline phones less, and some have completely abandoned them.
Young people are very drawn to technology. We help, for example, with the Third Generation internship program. Most of the students come for an internship to us in the technical department. Our employees of the technical department constantly undergo continuing education and professional training abroad. And we have an internal university, as elsewhere in Beeline in all countries.
Just a few years ago, we used standard schemes to replenish the balance and sell payment cards. Now the payment has become similar to the picture that is in Russia. Increasingly, replenishment from a bank account is used directly.
Over the past 3-5 years, the telecom market in Kazakhstan has changed significantly. We carried out the commercial launch of the third generation network, which became the impetus for the active growth in the use of mobile Internet. Significantly reduced the cost of interconnect. The profit of mobile communications has decreased due to the more active development of mobile Internet. Given the proliferation of Internet resources, social networks and entertainment portals, the share of revenue from access to mobile Internet will grow every year.
And finally - a view from one of our base stations in the summer:
It is beautiful in our country, and we are developing very quickly in the IT segment. Come visit, we are always glad to everyone!