IT sector in Azerbaijan (january 2013)

Analysis Materials 16 March 2013 13:59 (UTC +04:00)

2013 was declared as the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani Communications and IT Ministry has voiced the perspective directions. The perspective directions and projects to be implemented by the end of the year will be reflected in the action plan. Launching the first telecommunication satellite Azerspace-1 into orbit is the key and most important event of the year. The second large-scale event is a project of developing broadband Internet, which will be funded by the Azerbaijani Oil Fund.

2013 will be also marked by the transition to digital broadcasting. Analogue broadcasting will be suspended by the end of the year. The Azerbaijani Communications and IT Ministry disseminates information through the media to fully prepare the population for digital broadcasting and the work in this direction is underway. The local producers and entrepreneurs were informed not to produce or import TVs that do not support digital broadcasting into the country. Today, digital televisions and decoders for digital broadcasting are sold in Baku and regions of the country. The request has been made to the government to provide the poor with decoders at the state expense.

Nine transmitters were installed to expand the coverage of digital TV in Azerbaijan. The total number of digital television transmitters used in the Republic reached 43.

Currently, the work is underway to provide the remote areas of the country with a digital TV signal. Some 10 additional transmitters with DVB-T standard were purchased. The work has been launched to install the equipment. Full transition to digital format is expected to occur after the republic's population is fully provided with digital television signal.

The poor people are expected to be provided with decoders on a preferential basis within the transition to the new standard. The matter rests in more than about 120,000 families who receive targeted assistance. Around 5 million manat will be required for these purposes. This is discussed by the Azerbaijani Cabinet of Ministers.

The operations are underway to coordinate frequency envisaged for broadcast television and radio programs with neighboring countries within the transition to the new broadcasting standard. Currently, coordination issues have been fully resolved with Russia and partly with Georgia. It is expected to complete the coordination operations with the Georgian side by the end of this year. As for Armenia and Iran, the coordination issues are solved with these countries through the International Telecommunication Union.

Using the new standard DVB-T2 will be a promising innovation in the project of transiting to the digital broadcasting standard. The second generation of digital terrestrial TV and radio broadcasting system DVB-T2 can be used for fixed, mobile and other reception and its payload is by 30-50 percent more compared to the previous version of DVB-T in the same conditions.

There are 25 television channels in Azerbaijan now, 11 of which are republican, 14 regional. Moreover, there are 15 radio programs. There are 12 cable operators and over 20 internet TV.

The Azerbaijani Communications and IT Ministry plans to ensure the activity of the portal of e-government via a "single window" principle. E-services rendered to citizens will be expanded together with "ASAN Service" center.

Around 36 organizations joined "e-government" portal created by the Communications and IT Ministry to use electronic services of state bodies via a "single window" principle.

They render 168 e-services through this portal.

Using an electronic signature created conditions for increased using electronic services, rendering more qualitative and safe services. The number of active users registered on "e-government" (ehdis.az) portal has reached 3,098 people, "e-government" bulletin published by the Information and Computing Centre (ICC) of the Azerbaijani Communications and IT Ministry said.

According to the ICC statistics, the number of unique visitors of the portal as of January 2013 reached 25,113 units. The number of approved electronic services is 419 units, of which 176 units are available on the portal of e-services. The total number of e-services placed on the websites of Azerbaijani state institutions is 348 units.

Some 159 e-services of state organizations were used 12,438 times from January 1-31.

According to the ICC statistics, as of January 31, the total number of e-digital signatures issued by the National Certification Center was 3,242 units. As of January, 265 certificates were given to legal and physical entities.

The certification service center completed the work to ensure an opportunity of using the electronic services through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). ICC has begun to provide all concerned people with mobile authentication certificates since February. The process of issuing the e-signature certificates for using in mobile devices will begin till March 1.

Today, many services are rendered by state agencies in direct contact with the public and payment envisaged for this in an electronic form. A good example of this is the online-registration of entrepreneurship, electronic submission of tax and customs declarations, documentation confirming the rights to real estate, retirement, receiving social assistance, requests for the telephone and internet connection, as well as receiving the required documents in an electronic form.

According to the State Statistics Committee, information and communication services worth 116.3 million manat, which is 13.6 percent more compared to the same period of 2012 were rendered to Azerbaijani organizations and people in January 2013.

Around 72.1 percent of the total volume of information and communication services fell to the services rendered to the population. Around 59.1 percent of the total amount of revenues fell to mobile services, or 4.8 percent less compared to the same period of 2012 (it hit 68.7 million manat).

Azerbaijan has been preserving a leading position among the CIS countries in terms of broadband Internet for the last three years. The penetration rate of fixed broadband Internet in Azerbaijan reached 50.8 percent. The total number of connections taking into account the ports of private service providers exceeds 223,000 units, of which about half falls to users of BakinterNet state provider.

The number of ports of broadband Internet in the state operator's network exceeds 250,000 units, 90,000 of which are owned by BakinterNet.

The state operator plans to increase its subscriber base for broadband connection by 25 percent in the near future.

The number of ports of broadband ADSL in the state operator's network was increased by 7,000 units. The ports have been used in the operator's telecommunication nodes on Baku and settlements.

According to the Communications and IT Ministry, the percentage of Internet penetration in the capital may reach about 90 percent taking into account a mobile access.

The number of ports in the fixed broadband Internet in Baku Telephone Communication Production Association's network increased by 3.6 percent.

The ports have been used in the operator's telecommunication nodes on Baku and settlements. The total number of broadband Internet ports in the state provider's network exceeds 259,000 units, of which 193,000 are in exploitation.

Mounting capacity of ADSL-equipment installed in the state operator's telecommunication network increased by 35,300 and exceeded 139,500 units. Over 105,400 units are being used.

Today, the cost of connecting to the Internet at a speed of 1 Mbit / s is about 3 percent of the average wage. For comparison, the figure is an average of 20 percent in developing countries.

Azerbaijan ranked ninth among European countries and 37th in the world where 4G network was deployed. According to the ministry, 110 mobile phones fall for every 100 people in the country.

In 2010, the whole territory of the republic was covered first among the CIS countries with the mobile communication network. Today, the majority of mobile users are also Internet users.

According to the Azerbaijani Communications and IT Ministry, the ministry and the Oil Fund allocated 103 million manat in 2013 to implement the project of developing broadband Internet on the "Fiber to Home" model. The project is a cost-effective and will be implemented in three phases. Beginning from 2014, around 30-35 percent of the total project cost will be ensured through reinvestment.

The main goal of the project is to provide remote regions of the country with broadband Internet (at a speed of 10-100 Mbit / s) and expand the number of users up to 85 percent. Thus, according to this index, Azerbaijan will reach the level of developed countries by 2017.