This annual report offers a wealth of information on the Broadband and Internet markets in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Taijikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. Whilst broadband services remain limited across the sub-region, Internet is important and growing. Subjects covered include:
Internet Infrastructure and Developments
Internet policies, models and concepts
Regional and International Networks
Internet Market, VPNs and VoIP
Vision for a National Policy, Government Policies
Network Operators, Wholesalers and Retailers, Utilities Projects
xDSL, HFC, MDS, Satellite, Cable Modems, Cable Telephony
Armenia - ArmenTel was also allowed to retain sole rights to Internet telephony and the use of fibre optic cables. Previously, ArmenTel had been granted exclusive rights to the provision of all telecommunications services in Armenia until 2013 (apart from data services). ArmenTel announced in 2002 that it was increasing its commitment to a US$24 million network upgrade plan. The amended program was expected to eventually provide network coverage to around 85% of Armenia’s population.
The one segment of the market exempt from the ArmenTel monopoly was Internet services. The country’s Internet market is relatively small (penetration 7.5%), but has been developing steadily. However, there are still several major obstacles in the way of improved Internet connectivity. Not unexpectedly, these include poor telecom infrastructure; expensive telephone lines; the high cost of computer equipment relative to an average worker’s salary; political unrest in some regions of the country, which impedes infrastructure reform and intimidates potential sponsors and donors, and a heavy dependence on international funding, making long-range planning difficult.
Azerbaijan - A permanent Internet link was established for Azerbaijan in 1995 through the country’s Academy of Science. The country has had dial-up Internet access since 1991. By 2005, Internet penetration was around 7%.
Georgia - Georgia established a permanent link to the international Internet backbone in 1995, after having had non-permanent, dial-up Internet access since 1991. Internet use remains low (penetration below 5%), but the market has shown growth and strong competition between ISPs. There are only a handful of broadband services in place.
Kazakhstan - Commercial Internet services first became available in Kazakhstan in April 1996. Internet user penetration is less than 5%. Although Internet penetration remains low for the moment, there is increasing interest in going online.
Kyrgyzstan - Kyrgyzstan has an Internet user penetration estimated at around 6%, having apparently grown sharply in 2005. This sector of the market has been helped to some extent by an Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan for education and computers. Access to Internet in Kyrgyzstan, as with other telecom services, has a strong bias towards the urban customer.
Tajikistan’s Internet services began in 1998 with TajikTel serving as the national ISP. A number of other ISPs have since started offering access to the Internet. There were around 6,000 Internet users in Tajikistan in 2005, representing a tiny 0.1% user penetration. Usage growth has been hindered by a number of factors including inadequate telecom infrastructure, the absence of appropriate regulation, no high-speed international communication channels and the very limited availability of personal computers.
Turkmenistan - The Internet arrived in Turkmenistan in 1998. It was provided through an agreement signed in 1996 between the government and international carrier MCI. Internet access has expanded only moderately since then. In a country of almost five million people, there were an estimated 50,000 Internet users at end-2005 (a lowly 1% user penetration).
With the Internet tightly controlled by the government, access remains severely restricted and there has been no real opportunity to develop.
Uzbekistan - The growth of Uzbekistan’s Internet services market has been picking up pace. Despite a range of difficulties, the number of Internet users was estimated to have risen to around one million by end-2005, a user penetration of 4%. Local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) continue to adjust pricing and service plans to make Internet service attractive and affordable for domestic users, thereby ensuring 50% plus growth in the market."
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