MTS points finger at state operator after suspending Turkmenistan operations

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Russia's biggest mobile operator MTS has accused Turkmentelecom of cutting off its Turkmenistan operation, leading it to suspend operations

MTS has suspended operations at its Turkmenistan unit after the state telecoms provider Turkmentelecom cut it off from its network. 

Russia’s biggest operator suspended the service at 00:00 on 29 September, claiming the actions of the state-owned operator had resulted in the disconnection of international and long-distance zonal communications and internet access.

MTS, which has around 1.7 million subscribers in Turkmenistan, said it has been locked in negotiations with state regulators over frequency licences. Its current licence is valid until 26 July 2018.

In a statement, MTS said: “MTS… announces that it was compelled to suspend communication services in Turkmenistan from 00:00 September 29, 2017, due to the actions of the state-owned telecommunication company Turkmentelekom.

“MTS continues its negotiations with the Turkmenistan regulatory authorities and state-owned companies in order to extend permission to use frequencies, as well as other certain resources, necessary to provide telecommunication services in Turkmenistan.”

MTS was previously forced to quit the country in 2010 after it had its licence suspended, costing the firm around $140 million at the time. MTS, which returned to the market two years later, still claims the reasons for the suspension “were never fully justified”.

The Turkmenistan unit generated around $74 million in revenue in 2016, accounting for just 1.15% of MTS’s overall group revenue.