Azerbaijan preparing to launch broadband Internet project

By Aynur Jafarova

The project on broadband Internet development in Azerbaijan is being agreed with executive authorities, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies said on July 29.

The project has already been evaluated by Booz & Co, a leading consultancy working in the telecommunications sector.

"The Ministry has appealed to the Presidential Administration of the country to make corresponding decisions on commencing the project," the report said.

The project, which is scheduled to begin this year, envisions arranging high quality broadband Internet services via fiber-optic cable networks and modernization of the telecommunication network of all populated areas of the country by 2015.

Azerbaijan has maintained its leading position among the CIS countries in terms of broadband Internet penetration over the past three years.

Internet penetration rates increased from 65 to 70 percent in 2012. Also, work has been carried out to improve the quality of data transmission services. The capacity of international communication channels more than doubled compared to 2011 and fees were reduced by 35 percent.

Currently, Internet users amount to 70 per 100 people of the country's population; some 50 of them are broadband Internet users.

At present, Internet fees for connection speed of 1 Mbit/s account for about 3 percent of the average wage in Azerbaijan. For comparison's sake, the fees are up to 20 percent of wages in developing countries.

Some 103 million manats (about $131 million) had been allocated for the implementation of the broadband Internet development project in Azerbaijan in 2013, which means further spread of broadband Internet in the country and an increase of Internet users to 85 percent.

Furthermore, according to the Baku Telephone production association, the number of households with access to broadband Internet has reached 250,000 in Azerbaijan's capital Baku, with the figure expected to reach 400,000 by the end of 2013.

Thus, Azerbaijan is expected to reach the level of developed countries on this indicator by 2017.