Scenes and short notices from 2002 event…

The first Caspian and Central Asia telecommunication Conference was in Istanbul on the 22-24th of May 2002.

The World giants of telecommunication market took part in the first Caspian Conference, besides the Ministers and top managers of the governmental bodies of the region. Delegates of United Nations (UN), World Bank, and European Union (EU), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), EBRD and related associations had also given colour to the event.

The monthly telecom magazine of Turkey ‘Telepati’ took part in the Conference as a media partner, while ‘The Times’ was the Official Media Sponsor of the organization.
The delegates from financial associations and international companies made presentations about the investment on the infrastructure and development of telecom market in the region.
The Chairman of ITE Group Plc., Steven Warsaw, underline the importance of Turkey at the region and high rate and quality of the participants for the first event in its class, in his opening speech. He also added that, “The cooperation of the countries and the participation of Ministers and high level management show us that, there is a serious need of such a meeting. The acceptance of the event indicates the priority of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Communication technologies are the main factor that regulates the socioeconomic level of the countries and Caspian Telecoms Conference is an important opportunity for the development of the telecom market of the region.
The Minister of Transport and Telecommunications of Turkey Dr. Oktay Vural, gave an opening speech also. He said that, “Caspian Telecoms Conference is an important opportunity for the whole region. A right model for the telecom infrastructure will improve the life style of all countries of the region. The cooperation in the telecom market will add value to the economical potential of the region. Dr. Vural added that, “The ‘digital divide’ in the region countries has to turn into a ‘Digital chance’. Regional countries have to get benefit from the experiences and know-how of Turk Telecom that had been gained for years. He also insisted on founding a research and development institute for the region and repeating the event annually”.
At the opening; the Assistant General Secretary of ITU Roberto Blois, made a short review of the results of World Telecommunication Conference which was done by ITU for a few months ago. During the conference, round-table meetings were organized between the region countries and ITU. General regulations related to the region, rules and regulations about the sub-sectors of telecom sector were the main subjects of the meeting.

Turkey is the most leading country in the region concerning its market size; Turkey is also guiding Caspian Region because of its strong market position. In the meeting, the member of Board of Telecommunications Authority of the Republic of Turkey, Mr. Abdullah Rasit Gulhan gave a speech.
He gave information about the processes and activities in the Authority. In compliance with ETSI standards, Turkish telecommunication market has been reorganizing and become more competitive in the European market.
25 ISPs has been licensed so far by the Authority. Also, there are ongoing activities concerning MMS, wideband Internet Access and Tetra systems licensing. Turkey is the only country in the region having the Regulatory Agency.
General Manager of Turk Telekom, Mr. Ibrahim H. Akturk said that Turk Telekom is the 13th biggest operator in the world. Number of Turk Telekom’s line capacity is 21,508,886 and number of fixed line subscribers is 18,949,512. Subscriber density is %28.32, number of PSTN line capacity is 161,808. Digitalization of Exchanges rate is %88.80. Between Exchanges digitalized transmission rate is
%97.85. Number of cable TV subscriber is 907.000. There are 20 million mobile subscribers in Turkey. Turkey is in the first place in mobile service usage and in the second place Internet usage in Caspian region.

One of the leading countries in the region is Russia. In Russia, by sampling European telecommunications regulations, there is a target of having an international operator handling telecom services in the country. Alcatel Middle-East Europe and Russia Region Representative, Mr. Jan Glinski said that although there is a huge investment opportunity in the country, the country can not develop as much rapidly as expected causing a danger of losing their existing potential.
The process of forming rules and regulations is not going fast. Mobile services are easily accessible and a strong element of regional development. Because of climate, satellite services are being used. There is also a cable connection to Turkey and Kazakhstan.

Chairman of Communication and Information Committee Mr. Askar Esengarayev said that, there is positive impact of telecom developments in the region to Kazakh telecom market. He also gave information about Kazakh telecom market. At the end of 2001, number of fixed telephone lines is 2 million, and telephone network capacity is 2.4 million lines. International telephone traffic arrived %18 in total calls in 2001, at the beginning of 2002, the number of mobile subscribers was 800.000 and GSM market increased %28. In Kazakhstan, the market value of telecom increased from USD 250 million in 1998 to USD 800 million in 2002. There are more than 700 licences for telecom services given and the biggest development is on Internet market. 130 ISPs have been licensed. Internet has got %7 of the overall market. GSM and CDMA mobile communication services comprises of %25 of the overall market. There are 4 GSM operators in Kazakhstan. Where digital broadcasting infrastructure is in progress, national operators and Ministry has been developing national satellite network to reach the urban areas. Liberalization is being realized gradually and regulations are under construction.

Technical Managing Director of Turkmenistan Communication Ministry Mr. Bedri Mamedov said that, there has been USD 60 million worth foreign investment to nurture the market for 10 years. In the country, from International Exchange in the Ashgabat, there are direct links to the neighbours and also satellite and digital wireless relay communication lines to Turkey, Russia, Iran, Italia, and USA. Country’s first network is being modernized in the country. 3 provinces of Turkmenistan are connected to each other via TAE fibre optic network. The digitalization rate is 29% in the country. In addition, since April 1997, national televisions have been broadcasting digitally by satellites. 34 telecom companies serving different areas have been licensed in the country.

There is one telecom operator serving in the country. The General Manager of Uzbek Telecom Mr. Hakim Mukhitdinov said that, they aim to increase their communication standards to integrate their market to world market and also they have been working with foreign partners on some regulation issues. Uzbek Telecom has more than 1.5 million subscribers. The usage of telecom capacity is %85, and in 2001 more than 88.000 fixed lines had added. In the country, fibre optic cables have been used in general. Number of mobile subscribers of Uzbekistan was 5,000 at the beginning of 2002. There are 2 ground satellite stations in the country. One of the most prioritized issues in the country is privatization. To develop the privatization program they are working with Commerzbank. There are some regulations to protect the rights of the foreign investment. Because of these regulations, new services are being developed and the market became more competitive. In 2002, infrastructure and hardware modernization program has been accepted. There are few steps in the project and the first one is digitalization. Digitalization rate is %33. Also ISDN services are available in Tashkent. With Trans-Asia link, which was constructed in 1998, the country has a data communication line from China to Germany. There are some new activities concerning IP telephony, database programs, and wireless communication.

There has been only one operator in the country called Aztelecom since 1992. General Director of Aztelecom Mr. Nazým Dzhafarov said that, USD 465 million worth investment in telecommunication market and also he gave some information about developments in telecom market since 1991. One of the most important projects is TAE international fibre optic main cable system which was started in 1999. To improve Internet services, in Coba, Shaki, Gandja, Sungayit, Lankaran, Masalli, Mingachevir and Absheron, some Internet clubs have been developed between Intercity Exchange and Bakinnet having 2 Mb/s capacity.. According to Aztelecom contractual management plan; infrastructure is covering central and urban areas with 54 telephone Exchanges.

The representative of PT Ministry Mr. Ali Kermanshah said that, telecom sector have been restructuring and reorganizing consistently with the rate of population growth and they formed an independent regulatory body by getting support from ITU. He said that they decided to establish a company which will be responsible from infrastructure and services. At the beginning of 2002, in the country, the number of fixed lines was 12 million, the number of GSM subscribers was 2 million, the number of Internet subscribers was 1.5 million, and the number of ISS was 200. Basic telecom services were settled in 90% of the rural areas of the country. 2000 Km long fibre link is being used in Iran. According to 2000-2004 development plans, privatization will be realized. There are VoIP services in Iran but the regulations of these services are still under construction. Fixed telephone regulation laws were completed.

General Director of Georgia Telecom Mr. Guram Khmaladze said that, Georgia Telecom development depends on its reconstruction based on new services and new technologies. New 10 telecom companies have come into the market from 1995 to 2002. Although regulations have not been completed so far, causing insignificant market development; last 4 years, the market shows strong attack. Now, Georgia Telecom has 89% of market share. In the country, the fixed telephone lines owning rate in public is %13.

Assistant of Consultant of Communication Ministry of Kyrgyzstan Mr. Samsaly Alymkulov said that, first telecom project was realized in 1996 which aimed to install telecom network throughout the country. With this project, the national telecom market picture has been drawn and national strategy has been defined. Administrative and regulation bodies have been hold separately in the country. Regulations are being realized by the independent government unit. Digitalization projects are ongoing and the sector has been rallying since 1996. In 2002, %51 of Kyrgyzstan Telecom shares was privatized.

General Director of Tajik Telecom Mr. Said Zuvaidov said that, the war and other negative developments after the declaration of independency have delayed the market development. He also said that their telecom network is based on analogue transmission. In the country, more than one of third of total telecom lines got old. Structural changes and constitutional reforms are being realized to attract foreign investment and to develop the market. The liberalization of mobile communication and Internet services has been started in 1996 and there are 3 operators working in these areas. Internet and IP telephony services have been given by 4 companies. Because of the country’s hard geographical conditions, mobile, wireless and satellite systems are being used. In this subject there is collaboration with Gilat to enlarge GAMA network. Because of the financial difficulties, country has a close collaboration with European Bank of Restructuring and Development.