Azerbaijan, Baku /corr. Trend S.Babayeva / Trend 's interview with the Director General of Azercell Telecom JV, Halim Ates.
- Azercell already has considerable working experience in the Azerbaijani market. How do you assess the investment climate in the country?
- We have been working in Azerbaijan for eleven years already. We have always invested in Azerbaijan with pleasure and received support from the State. All necessary conditions have been created for us. I am sure that this attention will remain unchanged in the future as well. It is a mutually beneficial partnership. We developed due to Azerbaijan and I am sure that we have brought benefits to Azerbaijan. Therefore, during celebrations of Azercell's 10th anniversary, we highlighted our efforts to become such a company of which Azerbaijan could be proud.
How do you see the atmosphere in the mobile communication market of Azerbaijan?
- Currently four mobile operators are working in the mobile communication market of Azerbaijan. Of them, three work through GSM standard and one withCDMA standard. It is a serious figure for Azerbaijan with a 8.5mln population. For instance, three operators function in Turkey with a population of 70mln. I think the existence of four operators creates sufficient conditions for severe competition.
- When will it be possible to increase Azercell's subscribers to 3mlm?
- I think that it will be possible in the near future. Two months ago, the number of subscribers exceeded 2.8mln. Therefore the day when subscribers will reach 3mln is not far off. Of course, I can not highlight an exact date. However, it is our will, we would be glad for such a number of subscribers not only today, but also yesterday.
- You are interested in introducing 3G (third generation) in Azerbaijan...
- As the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, said, Azerbaijan should be a center for up-to-date technology in the region. If we want to achieve this, it is necessary to obtain all advanced technologies in Azerbaijan as they become available in the world. We also try to bring advanced technologies to the country. Already at the end of 2005, we highlighted our wish to bring 3G technology to Azerbaijan and made an appeal to Azerbaijan's Ministry of Communications & Information Technologies to receive a license to render this service. We have been carrying out preparation works since the beginning of this year and now we are in anticipation.
I think that it is impossible to delay the process of applying 3G. For example, in Georgia with small market development, licenses has already been given for this technology. I consider that it is an issue that we should resolve as soon as possible.
- What are Azercell's investment plans?
Since our activities started in Azerbaijan, the amount of investment allocated by us has reached almost $600mln and we are one of the largest tax payers in the country, paying nearly $400mln to the State during these years. We intend to adhere to this amount. For instance, if we can receive a license for 3G, we will direct a certain amount of investment towards developing this service. Each year, we invest in technical expansion, network improvement and application of new services. It is always possible to find directions of investment for further development.