Nordic telecoms operator TeliaSonera plans to invest at least US$160 million in Uzbekistan’s third-largest GSM operator Coscom, Coscom’s General Director Bora Baysal said on Thursday.
TeliaSonera acquired US-based MCT Corp., which has a controlling shareholding in Coscom, in July this year for US$292 million in a move to expand beyond its Nordic home market, Reuters reported.
Baysal told reporters the Swedish-Finnish firm would spend not less than US$160 million "in the near future" to expand Coscom’s GSM 900/1800 mobile network and launch data transmission technology.
He said Coscom would see the first tranche of investments at the end of this year when results of a tender for equipment are to be announced.
Coscom, which began operations in 1997, services 11% of Uzbekistan’s 3.74 million mobile subscribers. Its network covers all major Uzbek cities.
Its main competitors, Russian cell phone operators Mobile TeleSystems and Vimpelcom , control 52 and 33% of the country’s telecom market respectively.
Apart from the Uzbek operator, MCT Corp. also controls CJSC Indigo Tajikistan and CJSC joint venture Somoncom, which combined is the number two mobile operator in Tajikistan.
It also holds 12.25% of Telecom Development Company Afghanistan (Roshan), Afghanistan’s largest mobile player.