Major 4G updates are underway in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan via the countries’ respective state-owned operators.
Afghan Telecom’s mobile brand Salaam is now delivering 4G to 15 sites in Kabul, and reportedly plans to invest an additional US$20 million into developing and pushing new internet services.
The operator’s deputy chief Sharif Sharifi acknowledged that the deployment was currently limited to a few locations in the capital but confirmed this would change over time, stating: “We need some time to develop our system and to improve our services.”
Sharifi noted that the operator planned to deliver 4G coverage to all of Afghanistan’s provinces but declined to provide a timeline, merely saying that this expansion would come “slowly”.
Of Afghanistan’s five operators, Salaam is the third to launch commercial 4G. AWCC (Afghan Wireless Communications Company) pioneered the technology in the market in May 2017, with Etisalat following it in February 2019. MTN Afghanistan and Roshan have only confirmed that they will launch 4G without indicating when this might be.
Uzbekistan’s capital of Tashkent is also receiving expanded LTE coverage courtesy of state-owned Uzbektelecom’s mobile arm, Uzmobile. The operator also noted that data speeds would improve considerably as it was boosting the bandwidth of the LTE frequency through which it delivers coverage in the city.
All 2G and 3G base stations in Tashkent were included in the upgrade, which will also see the operator expand the technology into other regions of the country. Uzmobile confirmed that the country’s current Covid-19 quarantine was not impacting the scheduled expansion and modernisation of its network.
Uzmobile first launched LTE services in 2016, and now has the country’s largest LTE network, according to Telegeography. It is Uzbekistan’s third biggest operator based on subscriber numbers.