By Nigar Orujova
Azerbaijan is the leader among the Central Asian and CIS countries for Internet penetration and the country observes an increasing trend in the number of broadband Internet users, which is confirmed by statistics of international analytical agencies.
This was said by Ali Abbasov, the Minister of Communications and High Technologies at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on the results of the country's socio-economic development in the first half of 2015 and the objectives for the future.
The development of communications and high technologies has been ensured and the country has achieved a number of successes in this field, Abbasov said.
“The growth of income in this sector is 12 percent which is 1.5 times higher than average world indicator,” he noted.
The number of internet users in Azerbaijan is increasing annually. The percentage of households that have access to broadband internet has reached 65 percent as the country continues to build broadband channels to all cities of Azerbaijan.
In the first half of the year, the development of an optical communications infrastructure was on the agenda. Over the past six months, more than 100 villages have gained access to this system and thus 80 percent of Azerbaijani villages were connected to a fixed telecommunications network that meets modern requirements and provides access to broadband services.
“In general, during the reporting period, broadband internet infrastructure and services of both fixed and mobile internet expanded. Today, the density of Internet users in the country is about 75 percent, and the density of broadband Internet users is 65 percent,” Abbasov said.
According to the minister, e-services, electronic signatures, as well as the Electronic Government portal were expanded in the reported period.
"More than 12 million electronic services have been provided to population, individuals, and legal entities in 2.5 years since the start of operation of the portal. The number of users of the portal exceeds two million people," the minister said.
Moreover, the activities of the first telecommunication satellite of the country – Azerspace-1 – have been expanded in the first quarter of 2015.
“More than 130 international channels, including channels of Georgia, Turkey, Russia and other countries use the resources of the satellite. As a result of effective work of Azercosmos company, $9 million was obtained from the productive activity last year, this year it is planned to receive $16 million,” Abbasov said.
“Azerspace-1 has expanded its activity towards developing the country’s space industry,” said the minister.
Abbasov also hailed the work of Asersky satellite, saying it already teamed up with a French satellite to embark on commercial activity.
The minister went on to add that the gross income of the three mobile operators in Azerbaijan has increased by 6 times compared to the same period last year.
3G-network mobile services are now provided throughout Azerbaijan, while 4G coverage is available in Baku and the Absheron Peninsula.
According a report by the International Telecommunication Union, Azerbaijan is among the forty countries in which its territories are fully covered by 3G technology.
Speaking about TV broadcasting in the country, Abbasov said, Azerbaijan has completely provided the transition to digital TV broadcasting, which is the number one priority in the development of the radio and television broadcasting infrastructure.
“What we should do at this stage is to reach agreement with the National Television and Radio Council to stop analog broadcasting, and then provide them with commercial and specialized frequencies,” he added.
“In general, radio and television broadcasting in the country is at the level of developed countries. Today our population has access not only to local, but also hundreds of foreign programs through digital broadcasting, cable television, satellite, Internet, communications networks, and radio and television,” the minister noted.
Nigar Orujova is AzerNews’s staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @o_nigar
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