Thursday 18 January 2024

Türkiye is Still Waiting for 5G but 4.5G (LTE-Advanced) is Working Great

Couple of years back, Turkey officially changed its name to Türkiye and as such we will refer to them by their new name. 

Türkiye continues to develop its capabilities within its telecom sector, becoming one of the relatively few countries able to build and develop its own communications satellites. With the successful launch of the Turksat 5A and 5B satellites in 2021, the country has vastly increased its bandwidth capacity. These satellites will be joined by the Turksat 6A in early 2023.

In addition to these technological breakthroughs, the country’s operators have invested in fibre infrastructure, with Vodafone Türkiye having trialled a 1Tb/s service in late 2021 to support its 5G network backhaul and improve the quality of its fixed infrastructure.

Deployment of fibre-based broadband networks are well established, with fibre accounting for 26.7% of all fixed broadband connections as of early 2022. The DSL sector still dominates, accounting for about 63% of connections, but its share is steadily declining, year-on-year, while the number of fibre connections has grown strongly.

Improved fixed and mobile infrastructure is underpinning the country’s initiatives relating to Smart City concepts, which have become a key area of focus for the emerging digital economy and the transformation to a knowledge-based economy. Türkiye's National Smart Cities Strategy and Action Plan runs through to 2023.

There are three network operators in Türkiye : Turkcell, Vodafone and Türk Telekom (formerly called Avea).  

In 2015 the Turkish regulator auctioned off licenses on 800, 900, 1800, 2100 and 2600 MHz bands for 4G/LTE (Bands 3, 8, 1 and 20) . All three providers launched 4G/LTE in 2016. It has been marketed from the start as "4.5G", otherwise known as LTE+ or LTE Advanced, accelerated by carrier aggregation where available in major cities in all 81 provinces from the start. Coverage is generally quite good: Turkcell has the best, followed by Vodafone and Türk Telecom with the least.

The Turkish Government sought to be an early adopter of 5G, but plans have stalled and 5G spectrum has not even been auctioned at the time of writing this blog. European Commission's Türkiye 2023 Report notes that there was no progress reported in the procurement of 5G. Türkiye still needs to allocate additional frequencies for the development and predictability of the sector. In 2022, 94.1% of households had access to the internet, increasing from 92% the previous year.

In Opensignal's latest Türkiye Mobile Network Experience report, Turkcell wins five awards outright out of eight recognitions available, it retains both speed awards and Video Experience, while it also claims two newly introduced awards Live Video Experience and Coverage Experience. Türk Telekom turns two joint wins for Games Experience and Availability into outright victories, as Turkcell slips off the podium for both of these metrics. On top of these two wins, Türk Telekom is the sole recipient of Consistent Quality. For the third time in a row, Vodafone wins no awards, either outright or jointly.

Turkcell is the biggest operator in the country with the best coverage nationwide. 2G is on 900 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz. In 2015 Turkcell’s population coverage was at 99.8% in 2G and 95% in 3G.

Turkcell launched their "4.5G" LTE in 2016 using tri-band aggregation of 800, 1800 and 2600 MHz frequency bands. 4G/LTE is free to prepaid. Turkcell is known to have the best coverage in the countryside.  

According to Statista, as of the second quarter of 2022, Turkcell’s mobile business had a market share of 41.3%, ahead of Vodafone at 30.4 %, and Turk Telecom at 28.3%. According to the company’s own figures, it had 42 million subscribers across fixed and mobile in Q2 2023; the mobile subscriber base reached 37.6 million in the same quarter.

In 2016 Türk Telekom rebranded its mobile network from Avea, but you see their old sign still sometimes. It's the smallest provider in Turkey in terms of coverage, but they have still good speeds in the cities and a fair coverage in the countryside.

2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz, 4G/LTE was launched in 2016. It still has the lowest coverage in the countryside, but is strong in cities.  

Türk Telekom serves more than 15 million broadband and 25.6 million mobile subscribers. As the company plays a critical role in leading Turkey's digital transformation, they sought to modernize their infrastructure supporting business-critical systems, including core billing and charging applications and databases.

Vodafone is the 2nd operator in terms of coverage. 2G on 900 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz, 4G/LTE was launched in 2016. It has a good coverage in the country, slightly worse than Turkcell, but better than Türk Telekom.

The number of Vodafone Turkiye's mobile subscribers reached 25.4 million, by November 2023, the total number of mobile subscribers including M2M (Machine Inter-Machine Communication) reached 29.3 million . The company increased the number of postpaid subscribers to 19.1 million. While having 1.4 million fixed broadband subscribers.

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