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China's Huawei brings Kazakhstan into 4G era

Reporter: Han Peng 丨 CCTV.com

11-25-2015 12:58 BJT

A key goal for China's One Belt, One Road initiative is to boost connectivity with its western neighbors. That includes roads and bridges, and also telecommunications. Now China's biggest telecom firm Huawei is bringing Kazakhstan into the 4G era.

The day-to-day office work may look ordinary for many people, but for Sincheva Mereurt, it gives her a great sense of purpose. She is one of around 400 local employees working with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei in Kazakhstan. They are part of an ambitious project that has already started to change people's lives here.

"We are creating a 4G network in Kazakhstan. Without 4G, most people here were still using 2G signals, and a few could use 3G. Now cellphone users here can buy a 4G service, which is 10 times the speed of 3G, and at an affordable price," Mereurt said.

Huawei is the only 4G signal provider across Kazakhstan. It costs around US$17 a month for unlimited data flow. Mereurt says her job promoting 4G to customers isn't hard.

"With the 4G service, I can now use my cellphone for video chats anywhere and anytime for any amount of time. That's better than making phone calls. That's why I'm here again to open up another 4G account for my girlfriend," a customer said.

But Huawei's job outside the office is not as easy. Mereurt's colleague Talgat Duysembaev is a Huawei engineer. Every day, he and his partners have to climb up all the way to the top of the towers to check them. While it looks dangerous, particularly considering the strong wind in the winter, Duysembaev says maintaining these base stations is easy enough compared to building them.

"Before Huawei's project, most base stations in Kazakhstan did not meet the requirement for a 4G service. So we had to build new base stations one by one. That means a vast amount of investment from Huawei. At the same time, the low winter temperatures and ferocious wind added a lot to the challenge. But anyway we managed it," said Talgat Duysembaev, technician with Huawei Almaty Office.

With the service of Huawei, Kazakhstan entered 4G era in late 2013. That was even half a year earlier than China. Now Huawei's 4G base stations like this are reaching some of the remotest regions of the country, providing services to nearly two million cellphone users.

With a total population of 16 million, Kazakhstan stands at a strategic location connecting China and Europe. But this landlocked country became a backwater in an age of maritime trade.

In 2013, China launched a project to revive the ancient Silk Road and boost connectivity in Central Asia. 

Huawei says connectivity does not just mean building roads and bridges, but also improving telecom networks.

"In Kazakhstan, we have completed the first 4G network across Central Asia. Now Kazakhs can use the internet with much higher quality, which makes it easier and less costly to communicate and do business. We are building a Silk Road in the air," said Hou Tao, general manager of Huawei Almaty Office.

Kazakh employee Sincheva Mereurt says she is proud to be working on this project. She says more and more young people like her are choosing to work with Chinese companies, in the hope of riding the wave of new development.

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