Kazakhstan

Kazakh Telecom is the only telecom operator of the country. The company, which renders fix lines, national and international telecommunication services are in the process of liberalization. The Vice Chairman of the Committee for The Ministry of Transportation and Information of Kazakhstan, Askar Zhumagaleiv, who stated that in February 2002, the Kazak government has approved the report, which covers a program for the development and liberalization of telecommunications and that Kazakh Telecom is in the process of liberalization. Zhumagaleiv explained the advantages to be obtained after the realization of liberalization and the way the country is going to be liberalized:

“When Kazakh Telecom was a monopoly, the tariff system of the government was not flexible at all. They controlled the whole system. They were keeping the tariffs very low. Further, there was no competition on the market. Now, upon liberalization, international calls will be liberal, the tariffs will be changed, the quality of service will be increased and the development of new technologies will be provided. Besides, the level of competition and capacity on the market will increase. There is a preparation period for liberalization. This period will be followed by a first and second terms. The preparation will be realized in the years 2002-2004. During this period, we will provide all preconditions to realize the liberalization. We will reduce the discrepancies between the tariff categories. Global communication is very important too. We hope to make these services, which have not been profitable until now, more profitable. This period will be realized under transparent conditions and for this we will have a national budgetary fund. Further, there is the need for adequate laws at a competitive market. The laws have to cover liberalization. We are working on a telecommunication law to set up a flexible system on the sector. Various motions for change will be presented with this law and we hope that the Parliament will approve this law in draft. Beside this, regulations and bylaws will be prepared.

Thus, it will not be merely paper work but there will be regulations to be applied in telecommunications. Another point with reference to the development of this sector is that there is no discrimination. The market will be developed according to new rules and principles. There will be transparency between operators and other related authorities. Further to the governmental sources, the distribution of the channels is another process. During the preparation period, this has to be regulated too. After the preparation period, we will go over to the first application period. The main principle here is the begin of liberalized applications. During these terms, Kazakh Telecom will have rights on international calls. For international calls it will render services to other operators under these rights. At the end of the first period, we hope to finalize the liberalization period. At the same time, at the end of this period, the rights will be eliminated. The principles of the liberalization will be applied according to the governmental program. Full liberalization will be realized in 2006. But everything depends on the preparations and how the liberalization is going to be progressed. In general, the preparation of the competition environment will increase investments into this sector and this sector will be advantageous for foreign investors. We want a fair competition on the market. This will develop within a certain time. Until that time, the sector has to preserve its stability and quality. In Kazakhstan, after the application of this program, necessary conditions in the economy will be provided.

“We will restructure our conventional telecom systems”

The representative of the authority, Azamat Sırgabaev who stated that Kazakh Telecom has recorded a rapid progress and that the company is profitable, gave also information on the service capacity of Kazakh Telecom:

“Today, our company has a total capacity of 2,4 million fix lines of which 2,1 million lines are open for service. The digitalisation of local exchanges has been realized up to %45. We have annual revenue of 380 million US Dollars and our net profit is 75 million US Dollars. Due to the economical growth, we are able to obtain credits at good conditions. Today, we are rated with at very high credit notes. Kazakh Telecom is the conventional telecom operator of the country but %80 of its revenues is obtained from international rights. This percentage shows how much the company has been invested until now
every year.

Kazakh Telecom is being invested with yearly 120 – 130 million US Dollars. The real aim of these investments is; to increase the quality and the volume of telecom services but at the same time to diversify these services. Another principle of our investment strategy is to make advantage of the geographical situation of our country. Our country is located between Russia and South East Asia, because of its strategic situation; our country is a transit country. The shortest road between Europe and Asia goes over our country.

Azamat Sırgabaev, who stated that Kazakh Telecom has formed a secure backbone for information, said that the realized fibber optic projects are a demanding project for the financial system. He said further: “The fibber optic project provides the interconnection of our customers in Kazakhstan and it also provides the international connection. We have a high tech infrastructure for data transmission. Our aim is to modernize the conventional telephone system. But the percentage of new systems is still low. Beside this, we give priority to information services and we plan to expand these too”.

Azamat Sırgabaev gave information on the National Information Road Project and said: “This project is estimated to cost 1,2-1,6 million US Dollars. Here, the fibber optic lines are connecting China to the Western world via Almaty and Uzbekistan. There is another connection to Russia over Volga. We are providing connection from Astrakhan with Rostelekom and we have a connection with China. For the time being, the technical capacity of Kazakh Telecom is sufficient to provide the terrestrial connection between China and Russia. The system applied is SDM 16 technology. We aim to complete the eastern wing until Petra Pavlov and to extend this more to the East. The next step will be the connection of the new wind with available lines. Beside this, we are planning to complete the ring within the Republic in 2004. In Petra Pavlov, this ring will be completed so that Kazakhstan will have a complete ring of full-digitalized backbone.

Sırgabaev, who stated that there are more than 75 POP points in Kazakhstan and 105 nodes of which the connection has been provided, said that the total channel capacity of these is 350 Megabit per second. Sırgabaev said: “Finally, we plan to provide a fully digital service network which we plan to have completed by the end of 2005. Further we will increase our transit potential. We will open gateways to Russia and China. On the other side, we plan to open gateways to Uzbekistan and to our neighbours. We will continue to render our services at high levels.”

Afghanistan

After the 23 years of war Afghanistan has started to work on investments in information and telecommunications. Director of Telecommunications of Ministry of Communications, Mohammad Gull Kholmi said that due to the war even the number of fixed lines is very low. The infrastructure of the country is the weakest network of the region, even of the world. The fix line penetration is 0,16. In the country, the network, which was build 45 years ago, is in use. Mohammad Gull Kholmi who stated that the number of total digital lines is not more than 40 thousand expressed, that they plan to set up a mobile network. Kholmi informed about the country’s information and telecommunications technologies:

“Today, it is planned to open a mobile network with 30 thousand lines. There are 32 provinces in the country and only five of these are connected to national and international calls. Our aim is to expand the telecom services to all cities in Afghanistan. With the network to be set up all provinces will be connected to the centre. The war has separated all provinces from each other. In some of them are local administrations. Without telecom services it is not possible to access the administrations of the provinces from the centre when authorization is needed. When something happens in far distant provinces, the news are
carried to the centre within 5 to 7 days road. The communication will be done easily whereas with the telecommunications system to be set up. With the new system local administrations will be connected to the government. On the other hand, the development of telecommunications will provide profit to the government. The development of telecommunication services is also important in terms of national security.”

Kholmi, who stated, that primarily the legal frame of telecommunications would be set up, said that the first constitution was made in 1963 and that according to this constitution the telecommunication services are in the property of the government. Kholmi, who mentioned that new laws have to be issued, stressed also that within 3-5 years, the Regulatory Body will be leaving Afghan Telecom. He further said: “After this separation, the necessary investments for Afghan Telecom will be made. One of our aims is that sufficient information is gathered. During the war period, we have gained on knowledge in analogue systems. There is a lot to learn about the new systems. Therefore, we need operators with know how. We have to make our market attractive for those operators. At this point, primarily the telecommunication law has to be prepared. It is necessary to make a regulation, which shows the rights and responsibilities of the private sector and which provides the participation of an independent regulatory body and private sector. The regulatory body, which will license the mobile and fix lines, has to be simple and transparent. Further, this regulatory body will give category licenses for all services. The distribution of spectrum is very important. We are realizing this with the assistance of ITU. As Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications, we have given a licence to a GSM operator. Now, a tender has been opened for a second GSM operator. We will have three operators here and all tree operators will work together. The protection of consumer rights is important too and we are working on this project. We are planning to replace the analogue exchanges with digital exchanges and to increase capacity in big cities. We have grouped the Afghani provinces into three. We will set up new exchanges in these provinces. On the other side, we are planning to set up an international network bone. There are more than 4 million living abroad Afghani and their only connection to their relatives are the post offices. We will structure 423 post offices as the telecommunication centers for the population and there we will provide Internet access. With a small satellite network, we will connect these to Kabul and via Kabul to the rest of the world. For Afghanis, the connection to the world is very important. Therefore, beside the private sector, Afghan Telecom will also invest in Internet to provide cheap access to its country population. We will expand our capital. Until now, the national telecommunications strategies have been completed. It is being discussed in the cabinet. Upon approval by the cabinet, the law will be legislated. We have finalized with success the national GSM tender. For this, we are working with Monaco Telecom and Alcatel. Two months later, the second operator will start to operator its systems in Kabul. The telecom education centre has been set up. The World Bank has interconnected our Ministries with a project realized and many of them have now Internet access. In our big cities we provide communication via satellites. Together with ITU, we have structured spectrum management and frequency planning. Now, we are making the contracts for frequency and spectrum. With the assistance of technical consultants from America and England, we are completing our trainings.”

Kholmi also reported on projects, which are headed, to be realized in 2003-2004:

“On top of these projects comes the improvement of digital telephone services, which is a two phase project and the expansion of these to 11 cities. The tender of this project, which has a budget of 27,6 million US Dollars has not been opened yet. The second project is the setting up of a satellite communication with local stations. We are considering VSAT connections, but we need our own infrastructure. For the management of the national and international telecommunications traffic in Afghanistan, the provinces will be connected to Kabul via satellites and from here to abroad. The budged of this project will be approximately 5,5 million US Dollars. Upon completion of our own network, we want to provide the connection to neighboring countries. We are re connecting to Pakistan. Upon finalization of this, we can connect to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. The National Telecommunications Network Bone Project, which is supported by the US Department for Trade Development, is a long lasting project. This project, which is expected to be at 35 million US Dollars, will have several phases. Before the new government, Ericsson had set up new networks in Afghanistan. Now, Karzai has problems with this system. Because we are in urgent need of telecommunication systems, they have to be set up immediately. We have reserved 4 million US Dollars for spectrum management and distribution of frequencies. The French Government is setting up a network of 3,5 million US Dollars. In order to develop the capacity, the operation and politics and the regulatory body have to be separated. However, we do not know the related budget of this action. It must be a good invoicing system. For the time being the invoicing is done manually. We are planning a good system for this and we plan to invest 2 million US Dollars for the system. An EKT Administration may be found. For this purpose we have to set up a training centre. With the assistance of ITU, we have obtained a 4,3 million US Dollar financing from Geneva to set up this training centre. The set up of the Haw Communication Centre will cost 6 million US Dollars. The frequency planning for the telecommunications law, the distribution of frequencies for TV broadcasting will be financed by ITU and United Nations. The expenses are expected to be at 200 thousand US Dollars. Another budget of 500 thousand US Dollars is needed for accounting and finance systems during the set up of capacity. For training in telecommunications, United Nations and the French Government will finance the 16 training centers to be set up. Cisco has already set up a training centre for us. They are introducing new technologies in Kabul.

Tajikistan

Tajikistan is because of its geographical situation a fast developing country in terms of telecommunications. The Tajik Telekom Minister, Gulmahmad Kayumov stated that during the former Soviet Union period, the Tajik telecommunications was not considered to be developing, thus when the Soviet Union broke down, there were only analogue lines in the country, and calls could be made only to neighboring countries. Kayumov has given information on the development of the country in the field of telecommunications:

“Our situation was very difficult, because we could not set up any connection with the telecom systems abroad. On 1 January 1997, an investment of 5,7 million US Dollars has been necessary. Our company was trying to survive. Because at the same time, there was civil war and there was war in the neighboring country Afghanistan. The telecommunications lines have been damaged badly during these wars. And after the wars we have overcome these difficulties, we have started to strengthen our infrastructure. We have started to set up or connections with the BDT countries and rest of the world. We have restructured our traffic with available lines. Thus, we could reduce our tariffs. Now, the whole country is connected to the telecom system and our transit lines are ready too. Our aim is to reduce our debt before the end of the coming year. The players of the telecom market are interested in our country. Internet is growing. The same is with mobile phones. We have an analogue telecom system. In this case, we are confronted with a system, which cannot meet the needs of today’s requirements. Our objective is to realize a reform and to restructure the telecom system.

We will build a high tech network. We are aiming a digital telecommunications system. We need additional financing source for this purpose. We are obtaining support from the World Bank. In Dusanbe, fiber optic cables are replacing the conventional lines by this financing. In recent years, we have begun to improve the invoicing system. Our developments have primarily started with the renewal of the Dusanbe exchanges.

Apart from this, with fiber optic cables, we will connect the important centers to each other and connect these centers to our capital. Simultaneously, many projects are being conducted in surrounding villages. If we look at the mobile phones, five operators have started to work rapidly. Within a short time, we want to integrate our telecom system with he telecom systems in the world.”

Uzbekistan

The Assistant Director General of Uzbekistan Communications and Information Agency, Agzam Izbosarov, who stated that Uzbekistan experienced a crossroad at the beginning of 2001, said that the Government issued a legal decree in this period, which contained the developments, related to the telecommunications technologies. Agzam Izbosarov said, “With reference to his legal decree, the position of a vice president responsible of telecommunications has been formed and the related authority has been attended. In our country, many telecom operators are rendering licensed services. In Uzbekistan there are; 4 telecom operators, 7 mobile telephone operators, 11 TV operators, 8 radio operators, 16 cable TV operators, more than 70 Internet service providers. Upon the issue of the governmental decree, certain rights have been granted to those operators and Internet service providers in the Republic of Uzbekistan. The number of telecommunications operator’s subscribers are 1,8 million whereas the coverage intensity is at 7,6. There are more than 900 thousand mobile telephone subscribers and there is a coverage of 5,5 million for radio. TV broadcasting area reaches

90% of the population. The length of international lines is 1,7 million km's whereas there is a trunk line of 10,5 million km’s. The digital and optic cable length is 7,5 million km’s. %70 of these lines are digital. Besides, the digital lines are used by %55, analogue lines are used by 32. Here are systems of Alcatel and Siemens. On the other side, we are using the systems of a Japanese company, of a Chinese company and products of many other international companies. We have a volume of 65 thousand trunks and this is working with a capacity of %70. The important problem is the data network.

After the issue of the governmental legal decree, we have provided

certain rights to many operators and these have been kept tax free with some exceptions. This has caused an increase of the number of operators. The number of Internet users is 16 thousand and the Internet speed is 18,5 Megabit. Our aim is to increase this speed up to 32 Megabit. Therefore, we are using both, the fibre optic cables and the satellite access channels. Our primarily aim is to improve the Internet and to make the service compatible to new standards. One of our seven mobile telephone operators is rendering services according to CDM 800, another one according to CDM 450 standards. Our number of mobile telephone subscribers was 190 thousand last year. Since then we have doubled the number. If we look at these figures, we can say that mobile communication has already its place in our economy. It is growing fast and has an important role in the telecommunication market. Two American companies and one Korean company are operating with success in our country. We want to improve this situation further more.”

Agzam Izbosarov mentioned that many laws have come into force with reference of telecommunications. These laws are the telecommunications law of 1992, the telecommunications law of 1993, and the revised telecommunication law of 1999. He said further : “Another law which regulates the telecommunications has come into force. Besides, we have a law issued in 1996 for the protection of intellectual property and the corporate property rights. Another law to protect the security of software has been issued in 2001. Further we have many rights, which protect the rights of information users. According to the law of 2002, the rights of access of information have been regulated. Last year, we have started a very serious project. The aim of this project is the transmission of electronic signals and the change of the law concerning the rights of intellectual property. These laws will have been approved by our parliament with their revised versions.

“For the privatization of Uzbek Telecom, foreign investment is a must”

Uzbekistan Privatization Authority of Public Economic Institutions; is an authority which is structured by World Bank, Uzbek Government and the Public Economic Institutions. The main task of this organization is to realize the privatization according to the applications of World Bank. The managing director of Uzbekistan Privatization Authority of Public Economic Institutions, Ulugbek Vahabov informed about the privatization work of the Uzbek Telekom. Ulugbek Vahabov who said that Uzbek Telekom is a big telecom operator with 1,8 million subscribers has given the following information:

“Uzbek Telekom who has a line of 12 thousand km’s., has 24 gateways to neighboring countries. At the same time, it has connections to 106 countries and work with more than 200 operators. We have an incorporated company and under the roof of this company there are another five different companies with specialized staff. With a network of fiber optic lines, the Republic of Uzbekistan is providing connection between Europe and China. The infrastructure its telecommunication system consist %55 of fiber optic cables, which are directly connected to Uzbek Telekom. Big Internet service providers are using the Pacific channel for their operations. There are private lines with high carrier capacity for companies like the BBC TV channel.

Over the Uzbek Telekom lines, %60 of the calls is made locally and %70 long distance. The telecommunication infrastructure of Uzbek Telekom has been realized with an investment of more than 300 thousand US Dollars. With these investments, we have been able to provide new technologies. The authority provides each kind of services and gives the related licenses. For the time being, VSAT and Internet services are growing. Multiple service types improve the financing. The revenues of Uzbek Telekom have been increased by %36 in 2002. Also an increase has been observed in the scale of services. This year, we are expecting a growth of %37.

Vahabov draw the attention to the fact that during the privatization of a company that size, strategically foreign investment is needed. He further stated, that for this purpose, a consortium of international specialists according to the methods of the Worldbank has been invited to Uzbekistan. He said:

“This group came from Germany. For privatization, we have agreed with a law and a financing company. The consultants have carried out the analyses during the preparation period. Later they have prepared the information on our country to be presented to foreign investors. For the privatization of the Uzbek Telekom all necessary preparations have been started. For this purpose, the structure of the company has been changed and 14 provincial organizations have been sold. All sub companies of Uzbek Telekom have been distributed to the five incorporations. At the same time, the company has been re-engineered. The debt of 200 million US Dollars have been taken out of the balance sheet of the company, only the assets have been left. All these actions have increased the attraction of the company.

Until it is privatized and it has a new structure, Uzbek Telekom will continue to pay these debts, which have been reduced from 200 to 136 million US Dollars today. This shows, that our company is able to overcome its problems. After the evaluation studies have been finalized on the company, according to the proposals of the Worldbank and with respect to the falls on world markets, first corporate investors have been applied to. International well known financing corporations have been invited. The European Bank of Restructuring and Development has evaluated the parameters with other finance corporations. Related applications have been prepared. The EBRD is working on the regulation of the technical strategies and of the sector. At the same time, we plan to renew our invoicing systems. The Asian Development Bank is working on the information system network. I can easily say, that our worldwide cooperation will continue. We hope, that international financing companies decide in favor of us and with new corporate investors, we can do the first steps. We will realize the privatization before the end of this year.

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan is a new republic with a 12 year history of independency. In this country, the work for information and telecommunication have been focused on in recent period. The Deputy Minister of Transportation of Kyrgyz Republic, Kenechbek Karacholov has informed on the situation of the country, who is on the way of getting an information society and the projects realized:

“During his speech at the World Forum at Davos, our President has stated that Kyrgyzstan has chosen to be an information society. Thus, the program of the government is based on this objective and steps are taken for the development of the sector. At the same time, we are working on laws to prepare the legal frame in our Republic. We have worked out approximately 20 laws concerning information and electronics. We are the only country in Central Asia, who has regulated its authorities and telecom sector like this. The legal frame works are continuing and we are trying to develop the infrastructure of the information society. On the other side, we are setting up the infrastructure for information and telecommunication companies. Kyrgyz Telecom is providing fix lines in world standards and also mobile connections and renders postal services. We observe that the telecommunication technologies are growing rapidly. In order to provide electronic communications, we are in need of exchanges that can render multiple services. Since 1998, Kyrgyz Telecom is the leading company in telecom sector. We can say, that we owe high level information technologies. The digitalization rate is at %28. All big cities are covered by the telecom network. First telecom project has started in 1994 and has been completed in 1998. Different digital stations have been set up. Via satellite, Japan, China, India, Israel, Germany, England and many other European country has been connected to our digital network. In 1996, a new telecommunications project which structures the digital network has been started. This project has been realized by means of Arabian financing. Until now, 15 digital licenses have been

given in Kyrgyzstan. Within the frame of this project, the subscribers in the southern part of the country have been connected to the new digital exchange. Another system is being set up with fiber optic lines. The length of fiber optic lines in Kyrgyzstan is 180 kms. With another project, which is being realized in Bishkek, the modernization of the telecom sector in our county is being provided. A system of 320 thousand US Dollars and 130 kms fiber optic lines have been set up. In Bishkek and other regions of Kyrgyzstan, there are modern fiber optic connections. In Kyrgyzstan, there are more than 16 Internet service providers. The access rate for Internet is 12 Megabit. While the number of subscribers was only 2300, this number has increased drastically this year. The Internet subscriber number is %15 of the population of the country. There is a big divide between us and the industrial countries. It hinders Kyrgyzstan from developing. We cannot use world technology and experiences and it will not be possible without international support. Foreign investment is absolutely necessary. And beside, we need a stable state politics. This is the reason why we are working on the set up of the infrastructure. We are observing the slowly liberalization process of telecommunication. This year, January the monopoly of telecommunications has been ceased and the process of liberalization has started.

“Privatisation is one of the main factors of progress”

The Vice Chairman of the State Ownership Commission of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan , Anatoli Makarov stated that the privatization of Kyrgyz Telecom is being considered as one of the priority items in the program. He further stated, that for this purpose, all licences and permission have been prepared and the privatization program has been accepted within the frame of the reform. Makarov continued his words:

“For us, the privatization is one of the main factors of progress and it is one of the most important infrastructures for the development of Kyrgyzstan. During the strategic privatization %51 of the telecom shares will be transferred to private sector. The participation period for the bidding has been completed in December 2002. Upon finalization of all applications, the investigations have started. The conditions of the bid have been issued in the press and all information related to the bid have been announce to the world 4 months long. 13 companies have applied for the bid. Other companies are expected to participate. There are no restrictions for the participants. Mid of 2003, the results of the bid will be announced.”

Makarov, who stated that the Government of Kyrgyzstan first of all is interested in the progress of the company management, said also:

“After the set up of a second GSM network, the capacities will be covered much better. Telecommunications is the key sector of a country’s progress strategy. Especially, regional services and expanding on the former Silk Road is very important. World Bank which has international financing organizations and European Bank for public improvements and progress are supporting the privatization works. Here, the regulations are carried out by the independent regulatory authority State Telecommunications Agency. The operators will start with their activities upon receipt of the licenses. The international telecommunication will again be controlled by the governmental teams. The approval of the tariffs will increase the local service revenues. In mobile services, the second GSM license has been given. This license has been given to KT Mobile, who is a sub company of Kyrgyz Telecom. The first GSM company Bitel has increased its number of subscribers from 20 thousand to 50 thousand during the years 2001-2002. There is still a potential for growth.

Georgia

The representative of the Georgian Ministry of Transportation & Communication, George Kakuberi, who stated that the information is enormously important for the development of people and countries, has drawn attention to the fact, that telecom is one of the locomotive sectors in Georgia. George Kakuberi has given the following information on the situation of telecommunications of the country:

“The economies of the developed countries are a good example for us. Telecom has been probably the only sector which did not crash in the Georgian economy. Moreover, it was a sector where the development of new and modern technology and services was realized very slowly. If we consider the complexity of transition periods, Georgia has preferred the liberalization, especially in telecommunications. Liberalisation is very important for the development of the telecommunications sector. Beside this, it is a system, which regulates the development of the private sector under fair competition conditions. Here, the reorganization o the Georgian economy is guaranteed by the Government. A governmental telecom regulatory committee has been set up. This committee is giving licenses for services, determines tariffs, and distributes sources and frequencies. Also, it regulates the sources of digitalisation. A common politics is applied for the development of the sector in Georgia and steps are being taken in terms of standardization. The committee is working for the development of the national network. The State Minister of Georgia has supported the formation of a committee for especially the standardization of services. This committee has been very effective in solving problems of the developing sector. The aim of the government has been to for especially an information society and thus to develop the country which would consequently develop the telecom throughout the country.

Reforms have been foreseen for reorganizing and restructuring the economy. Here, information and telecommunications have been given priority. These are factors forming the infrastructure of the information society. Thus, a new platform, away from unstable and unjust has been tried to be set up. It was aimed to give equal service to the whole population”.

Kakuberi, who stated that global projects cause the increase of telecommunications, has expressed that Georgia has some lacks, especially some disconnections in telecommunications in the rural area. Kakuberi has referred to the telecom road map of the country:

“Georgia wants to become integrated with the global information society. Out of this reason, we have to enter the global telecom networks. Caspian Telecom is offering us big opportunities in common projects with their regional countries. Beside the development of the telecom infrastructure, other activity of the Ministry of Transportation and Communication is getting ready the infrastructure for social processes and to provide the development of new sectors on the market. For example, e-trade has been almost set up in Georgia and unfortunately; there are still some lacks in the law. This show, that services in the country are insufficient. It is absolutely necessary to increase competition in Georgia by the participation of international companies”.

Azerbaijan

The Consultant of the Ministry of Communications, İltimaz Mamedov, who hold a speech in the name of Azerbaijan, has given the following information on the telecom sector of the country:

“Aztelecom, who is the only telecom operator of Azerbaijan is rendering telecom services throughout the country. Besides, there is Baku Telekom who renders telecom services only in Baku and Nahcıvan Telekom, who operates the local and national telecommunication services in Nahcıvan. Beside these companies, there are organizations like Katel and Urtel who give local telecom services in Azerbaijan. Bakucell and Azercell give mobile telephone services. Bakucell has been the first GSM operator in 1993. Although Azercell started its activities two years later, it service range is wider than those of Bakucell. In 1991, the Baku network has been
connected to the international network. At that period, copper lines were only available from Baku to Georgia and Turkmenistan. Also via copper lines, only one network with tree channels was available for international calls over Russia. After declaration of independence, a rapid change has been realized. By the attendance of telecom companies, Azerbaijan has been connected to many world countries like Turkey, England, Germany, USA, Italy. TAE of which the set up started in 1999, forms the fibre optic main cable system. Via the TAE line over Iran, many countries throughout the world are accessed with fibre optic lines. Together with the other lines, the number of international lines has reached 1500. The number of fix line subscribers has increased rapidly since 1991. In 2002, the number of subscriber has been 921 thousand and by the first half of this year, this number is expected to increase to 1 million lines. According to official statistics, the number of telephones per 100 families is at 57. In city centres, this number rates at 80, in Baku at 100. We work on regulation of the telecommunication in Azerbaijan. In this context, many trunks have been set up. Apart from Baku, in all other areas of the country, the exchanges have been renewed. Satellites are providing the communication between Baku and Nahcıvan. In Azerbaijan and neighbouring countries, the communication is provided via fibre optic lines. The Ministry of Transportation is planning to set up digital networks between all cities and we are working on this project. In Azerbaijan, we have 4 national TV channels, which broadcast worldwide via satellites. The coverage area of TV broadcasting is 100%. TV broadcasting is provided through the whole country. We are working to provide full and wide range Internet access in our Republic. As a result of this work, we are now able to provide Internet access via telephone lines. In comparison to telephone services, the Internet access is much economic, thus our people is able to make advantage of this service. Further we give Video conference services, which is a good platform for educational purposes. For projects related to this subject, we have given priority to big cities like Baku and Nahcıvan. We have prepared educational programs. The regional data network of the country covers all lines in Baku. We are aiming to expand this service to all cities in Azerbaijan.

From The ‘Caspian Telecoms’ Exhibition...

The Caspian Telecom Conference has been supported for the first time with an international exhibition. During the event, we have asked the participants for their comments on the regional telecom sector and the reason of their attendance.

Ted Franz

iBasis Sales Director Central and East Europe, Russia and Caspian Region

“iBasis is one of the wide ranging operators in the world. We have customers like AT&T, MCI WorldCom and Telenor. Due to the fact that liberalization is expected within the next short term, Turkey is an important and exciting market. Our objective is to get in contact with telecom companies who are already in Turkey and those, who will start activities here. Therefore, we are working on this.

We have contacted with regional countries, which are represented in the event, like Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Afghanistan. We have to make necessary arrangements to set up an office in Turkey and to see the results of the market after the liberalization. When we are needed on this market after the

liberalization, we may think to set up an organization, which will represent us. We aim to work with BT and telecom companies.

My hope is to cooperate with Türk Telekom. At the same time, cooperation will be made with alternative carriers like GSM operators. We do not have any activity in Turkey. However, we have a lot of experience, especially with telecom operators in abroad. The value add of cooperating with iBasis is that we share our experiences and technology with our partners. On international carrier market, iBasis is ranked number one. There are other companies such as AT&T, Sprint, WorldCom, ITXC who are in the same field of activity, however we are far ahead of them”.

Brian Betron

Voicewave Systems – Managing Director

“We are an American telecom company active since 18 years. We are providing telecom solutions for prepaid systems since 1991. We are situated in 26 countries and have got 220 customers throughout the world.

In Bulgaria and Greece, we have customers and now we are active in Ankara. Prepaid services are a very good field for the telecom market. There are prepaid mobile services and prepaid telephone cards. Apart from this, prepaid systems are used on international traffic too. This is not yet available in Turkey.

In 2004, the Turkish market will be liberalized. For the liberalized market, voice over

Internet is the priority. For this purpose, we are providing solutions, which we consider as the best for international calls. This is and important event for us. We are here to see the needs of this market.

We are selling our equipment and services to our customers directly. We have projects in Asia, Middle East and many other places in the world. We have focused on everybody who wants to set up its telephone company. We are developing in prepaid telecom solutions. We are meeting with companies to set up these systems. Lately, we have had a meeting with an electric company in South Cyprus to set up the national prepaid telecom network. We have had projects with companies located in Central Asia and neighbouring countries. They have started with prepaid calling cards, later they have used mobile prepaid cards and we have worked on prepaid dialling tone. It is very difficult to earn money on systems with invoices. In systems with invoices, there are different processes like invoicing every month. Out of this reason, more and more telecom companies are changing over to prepaid systems. There are 10 companies in the same field of activity in the world. We rank as one of the 3 best companies. We are developing PC based products. This is what differs us from our competitors.

Chen Lijun

XAHT Manager International Business Development

We are a Chinese antenna company. Our company is very new in Turkey. We have a new solution called “Operator Orientation”. Within the frame of this solution, we are designing antennas according to real coverage area. If an operator wants to cover the highroad, we have adequate antennas. Here, system integrators may have different ideas. Because they have standard base stations. Our designed antennas cover the highroad for operators. Thus, operators have profits in terms of their equipment costs. This is why we are here. We believe, that we are providing a new solution to the market with this product. Turkey and the Caspian Region are considered in our 2003 marketing plans. It is very important to introduce us because economies are not always running well and operators are heading
solutions at low costs. China is now the production centre of the world and the prices of the country products are very competitive.

According to me, this is a good timing to enter the Caspian market. We do not have an office in Turkey, but we are a company, acting internationally. I personally have been to America, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, Vietnam and many other countries to represent our company. We have had some connections in Turkey, but we have not yet worked with a Turkish company. However, we are interested in cooperating with partners who want to represent us here. Turkey’s role in the region is very important.”

Rogalas Konstantinos

Intracom BT Director Business Development Department

“We are represented in the Caspian Region by our partner Gantek Teknoloji and Mikom, who are located in Turkey. At the same time, we are accessing countries speaking Russian and their local authorities via our office located in Russia. Thus, we are accessing the Caspian Region from two channels. Beside this, we have a privileged position in the Balkans. We clearly understand the market needs of this wide area and we are very close to these countries. Our aim is to create projects, which are always profitable, which provide value adds services to subscribers and which satisfy more subscribers. We see in success stories, that this aim is being realized.

Some of our business partners, who are outside of the Caspian region have

some wireless broadband solutions. Now, we are trying to provide continuity of our solutions in these countries. There is Kazakhstan, which has a lot of opportunities among all other countries in the region. WE have had some projects there in recent years. We see that other countries like Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan are recovering. We have projects in all of these countries. Of course, we give priority to those who carry out the regulations and developments rapidly. We are glad to attend the Caspian Telecom event. There have been very effective sessions concerning the cooperation and information flow in the region. Effective discussion platforms have been created. Rapid developments have to be realized in the region. On the other side, there are traditional approaches. In that case, it is difficult to realize the reform. These are two contra dictionary terms, which force people to do their best around the table. This situation is a special dimension for countries and the conference. I think, this is a good conference. People have the chance to meet here. As Intracom, we have attended last year for the first time. We want to be here in the coming years too.

Adriaan Van Der Graaf

New Skies Satellites, Sales Director Europe

We are a satellite company based in Netherlands. We have services and products in the field of satellites. We are providing 6 satellites with global coverage. We are one of four companies who have satellites with global coverage. The coverage area of our satellites is the Atlantic, USA, Europe, Africa, Middle East, Central Asia and Far East. Our main services are “teleport” for telecom companies and “Value Added” Services for Internet service providers. I am responsible of the channel of Turkey. Thus, I am looking for opportunities to cooperate with Turkish companies to sell satellite services and render value ads services. This event is an opportunity for us to make new contacts.

David Cooper

EBRD Telecommunication, Information and Media Team Senior Banker

“As BRD, our aim is to strengthen the market of former Soviet Union countries. We are active in 27 counties in the region, except Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan, who are participating in this conference. Thus, we are keenly interested in Caspian and Central and Central Asian countries. We have invested about 200 million US Dollars in telecom projects in this region. And many of the participants of this event are our customers. At the same time, with respect to new investments, we are having meetings with representatives of other companies. For the time being, we are financing projects to develop Kazakh Telecom, Tajik Telecom and Kyrgyz Telecom. We also have discussions with private companies such as operators like Uzbek Telecom. Because, our main objective is to create a cooperation with private enterprises.

In order to receive a financial support, companies have to prepare a good business plan. Because, we are contributing only projects with economical value. We do not provide privileged financing. We are financing projects. We are looking for projects with real market forecasts. Our main task is to support companies and to structure a good project. We are providing a competitive advantage and a long-term financial support. Therefore, companies can obtain the capital necessary for their telecom project at different periods. The turn back of the credits can be within terms of 5 or 7 years.

The attendance to the event last year has been very good. I think, this year it is also well. In this context, we had a lot of opportunity to have connections. This event is and advantageous opportunity to meet our customers and prospective customers. Apart of all, Istanbul is a very convenient point for those who come from Western Europe and Caspian Region.

Munzer Kayyem

Tecore, Managing Director

“We are a USA based company. We started our business as manufacturers of TDMA equipments and since 1995, we have been producing GSM equipments. Our business is focused more on switching. We are offering flexible software based solutions for GSM operators. We have a very special solution for switching for operators. We have integrated the Mobile Switching Centre in one box with HLR and VLR, GPRS prepaid systems and short message service. We have projects for small and medium size operators with 2 – 5 thousand subscribers.

Whey they are grown, they will no longer make big investments. It is very easy to set up and operate our system. You do not need many engineers to operate the

system. Our product has a wide range of technological features. To grant an advanced development, we offer new features and advantages to operators. A software based solution. On the field of radio, we are producing controllers for base stations. The completely software based product has been developed on an open system. On the product, which is ready for GPRS and EDGE, you only upgrade software, and there is no extra need for hardware investment. At the same time, we provide aerial base stations. This product offers big advantages for operators at low volumed areas with high coverage. We realize this at minimum prices. Thus, operators are able to provide coverage areas without investing in many microwave equipment or fiber. We aim to provide our flexible software switching solutions and advanced technology in the field of radio to small and medium size operators. This is the reason why we are here. We have met many companies throughout the conference and have looked into their projects. At the same time, we have seen that they are impressed by our work, we obtained positive answers. We are a USA based company and we have just started to be interested wit other regions of the world. As of October 2002, we have launched our office in Dubai. This was our first attempt to the other regains of the world. In America, we cover 30% of the GSM operators market. We have seen that there is a big potential outside of USA and this is the reason why we are having these attempts”.

Tektronix

Sales Manager, Middle East and Turkey

“Tektronix is a company testing and measuring electronic components. In this context, we are supplying various tests and measuring appliances.

We have solutions for telecommunications that is why we are here. We are supplying protocol measuring and testing appliances, network monitoring systems, base station area measuring and antenna measuring systems, spectrometers. Tektronix is a US company.

I am working for the export section of our company. In Turkey, we are working with Gate Elektronik A.S. At the same time we have certified channel partners in Middle East. We have connections with Africa, Russia and Caspian region.

We are active in Central Asian countries but there are still countries like Iraq and Iran, which are difficult to enter. We are trying to increase our activities in these countries. The reason we are participating at the Caspian Telecom is to increase our sales at the Caspian region. I can say that we have a good positioning on the Russian market. There is a very dynamic market. Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan and all regional countries have a big potential.

In these sectors, we are looking for partners with local knowledge who can represent our products.

Especially, we are trying to realize this at the telecom market. Because, this market is growing rapidly. This is one of the reasons why we are here. Besides exhibiting our products, we are trying to know new companies to gain new contracts. At the same time, we want to set up new partnerships at the Caspian region. We are working in harmony with our Turkish partner, Gate Elektronik. With this partnership, we are continuing to grow in Turkey, which is an important market for us.

Derek R. Mcclelland

Thales Antennas Limited, Sales Director

“Thales Antennas is a company active with 65000 employees in 35 different countries. Our main field of activities is defence, space systems and in recent times, antennas for information technologies and services. For the antennas we have two business units. One of these is mobile communications, thus the sector we are addressing is telecommunications. We have solutions for GSM operators.

The sales of Thales Antennas are 50 Million Euros . We are supplying most of the European telecommunications operators. We want to enter the regional market for mobile telephone operators with base stations and give services. Fey years ago, we had worked with Telsim and Turkcell, when they were to set up their GSM network.

These companies are now trying to expand their services to more subscribers and to extent their networks. We hope to supply them our solutions, which we provide in England and Europe. Beside Turkey, we also plan to expand our activities to the Caspian countries. We are the main antennas supplier giving service to mobile operators in England. We have just completed a project with a 3rd generation operator, which was a big success for us. Because, we have set up 26000 antennas in England last year. We are active in Belgium and Netherlands in Europe. We have a local production plant for Telefonica in Spain. Telefonica is a good step for us to enter the South American market.

You cannot place base stations as you want. When making the preparations, you have to consider local authorities, city planners or municipalities. For example, in England, we have reduced the visibility of the base stations to minimum. We are trying to offer less visible solutions.

We are offering our network solutions to operators. As the needs and requests of each country differ, we prefer to work with operators directly.

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