September 21, 2020

Experience of Azerbaijan in broadband internet development and its regional dimension

Case Study By

H.E. Ramin Guluzade

Minister of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan

Given the role of economic, social, and humanitarian aspects, as well as the multiplier effect of broadband internet access infrastructure development, this area has announced a priority in our country.

 Azerbaijan made huge progress in broadband internet infrastructure development  and its application in all areas of society for the last ten years. The rate of internet users rose  from 46% to 80%, the rate of broadband internet users rebounded from 15% to 75%, while the  rate of household users increased from 45.1% to 78.2% for the last ten years.  

95% of rural telephone stations have already been provided with optic fiber cable system  connection. 50% of the country’s telephone system is reconstructed based on cutting-edge  NGN technologies, which enable users to benefit from single line for phone connection, high speed internet and IP TV. Besides, GPON technologies-based high-quality internet service is  being provided in the capital city of Baku and other big cities. Moreover, high-quality wireless  LTE technologies-based internet service is being rendered with the application of technological  approach. “Public Wi-Fi” project has already successfully implemented in the parks, avenues,  and other public areas of the Baku city, where people can get access to free Internet.  

At present, the coverage of the 3G mobile network in Azerbaijan is 97.6%, and the coverage of  the 4G mobile networks is 93.0%. These coverage rates played a crucial role in broadband  internet development across the country.  

Now, Azerbaijan’s internet market is fully liberalized and no licenses are required for rendering  internet access services, which gives impetus development. More than 40 internet service  providers operate at the internet market of Azerbaijan; only three of them are public operators, while others are private. Governmental support, a healthy competitive environment, and public private partnerships underpin the success of broadband internet development in the country.  

96% of schools in the country have been provided with computers and more than 60% of  schools have broadband internet access. Currently, 84% of men and 76% of women use the  internet in the country. Various projects are being implemented in the country to develop the  information society, increase the ICT knowledge of the population, and promote the use of  electronic services. Social projects are being implemented in cooperation with UN specialized  agencies and their representation in the country in order to reduce inter-gender digital  differences and support women’s digital skills and personal development. 

Today, the achievements in the development of the internet in Azerbaijan are highly valued by  international organizations. Thus, in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness  Report 2019”, Azerbaijan ranked 43rd out of 141 countries in terms of the number of internet  users per 100 people, and according to this indicator, Azerbaijan exceeds the world average  by 1.5 times. 

The development of broadband services in the country is carried out within the framework of  the adopted National Strategy and State Programs. The “Strategic Roadmap for the  Development of Telecommunications and Information Technologies in the Republic of  Azerbaijan” approved by the relevant Decree of the President in 2016 sets ambitious goals for  the development of services and broadband infrastructure with wide coverage in the country.  Thus, increasing the coverage of the broadband network to 95% by 2025 by transferring  broadband internet services (which is through copper lines currently) to fiber-optics, the speed  of internet use per user in the fixed broadband network in Azerbaijan from the average speed  of 3.6 Mbit / s in 2016 to 50 Mbit / s in 2025 and from 2025 then to reach the level of developed  countries set as main goals. At the same time, increasing the coverage of broadband services  on LTE and other wireless technologies by 10% annually to 85% in 2025 and 100% after 2025  are targeted. 

Furthermore, Azerbaijan takes initiatives to build a high-capacity data transmission fiber-optic  network in the region. Bilateral agreements have already been signed between Azerbaijan and  Kazakhstan, as well as Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan to launch fiber optic cable connection  along the Caspian Sea.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this insight are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of ITU and UNESCO or the Broadband Commission. The mention of specific companies, products or services does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by ITU or UNESCO or Broadband Commission in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.