Communications in Turkmenistan

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Turkmenistan has a state-controlled press and monitored communication systems. With the death of Saparmurat Niyazov on December 21, 2006, the situation may change, possibly opening for the expansion of free press and open communications within the nation.

Contents

Mobile

BCTI was only GSM operator in country with 10-year exclusive license granted in 1994. Due to lack of competition, BCTI continued to operate without investing much to cover rural areas. Expensive cost of service limited the number of subscribers to very small percentage of general population.

Mobile phones sector started to improve rapidly after the expiration of company's exclusive license in 2004. Russian mobile phone operator MTS acquired BCTI [1] and state owned communication company TurkmenTelekom opened new subsidiary, Altyn Asyr GSM. Number of mobile phone subscribers reached over 1,000,000. (MTS - 800,000[2] and Altyn Asyr GSM 450,000 (estimate[3])

Internet Service

Turkmenistan gained access to the Internet in 1997 through a contract with MCI Communications (later became MCI WorldCom). A small number of independent Internet Service Providers were forced out of business in 2001 when TurkmenTelecom was granted a monopoly over data services. Dependence on expensive satellite channels limited the availability of Internet to only two thousand subscribers. To upgrade the Internet backbone, Ministry of Communication signed a contract with TATA Communications for routing traffic through Transit-Asia-Europe fiber optic channel.[4] As a result of this development, TurkmenTelecom started offering an access to the higher speed Internet with ADSL to the consumers in Ashgabat.

In 2008, MTS started offering Internet service to mobile subscribers via GPRS. Altyn Asyr was first to lunch 3G and 2 mpbs mobile internet service in March 2010. Move surprised mobile customers as the provider was known for inferior but cheaper service.

Country code (Top level domain): TM

Television

Analog TV signal feed of 5 national channels are receivable over-the-air in all living areas across the country. Foreign TV channels are watched with digital satellite receiver. In some places of Ashgabat, cable service is available where satellite dishes are not allowed to be installed.

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