The digitalization of public services, the transition to non-cash payments for services and goods, the creation of “smart” villages and cities have been declared the priorities of the Azerbaijani government. For this, the population must have access to cheap and high-speed Internet, so that everyone can solve their problems using a phone with a mobile application. However, the speed and cost of mobile Internet in Azerbaijan is lower than even in many CIS countries.
According to the Speedtest Global Index (2020), in November Azerbaijan ranked 66th in terms of mobile Internet speed, dropping one notch in a year, and advanced 13 steps in terms of fixed Internet speed and became 117th.
In 2020, Azerbaijan ranked 65th among 152 countries and territories in terms of the development of Internet commerce. These data are presented in the annual report of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published on Wednesday in Geneva.
For users, the cost of mobile Internet remains an important indicator. In 2020, among the post-Soviet countries, one Mbit/s mobile Internet in Azerbaijan was cheaper than in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and more expensive than in other countries (source: www.stat.gov.az).
In an interview with Turan, ICT expert Abdul Kahramanzade believes that the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies (MTCHT) should take measures to reduce the cost of the Internet in Azerbaijan. The time has come to pay for communication according to the meter, as we pay for water, gas and electricity. Without this, the government’s intention to move to the next level of digitalization (“e-government”) will not come true.
Turan addressed the question about the reasons for the high cost of the Internet to MTCHT. In his reply, Deputy Minister Elmir Velizadeh said that according to the Law on Telecommunications, with some exceptions, the issues of tariff and payment rules for telecommunication services are decided by the operators of the providers.
E. Velizadeh recalled that since 2000, a license is not required in Azerbaijan for the provision of provider services, and the tariff for the Internet is determined by the company and consumers by concluding an agreement. In disputable cases, the parties can go to court.
However, the reality is different. The largest Azerbaijani Internet provider, the state-owned company Aztelekom LLC, belongs to MTCHT, according to the ministry’s website (https://mincom.gov.az/az/view/organization/4/). Consequently, the state can reduce the tariff for the Internet in this company, and competitors will be forced to go after it to reduce the cost of services.
As the lawyer of Avirtel argued in court, the state provider Aztelekom, using state opportunities, illegally seized the consumer market, squeezing Avirtel out of it (2020).
The private company Azeurotel was also expelled from the Internet market. In 2019, when journalist Kamal Ali returned to his Baku apartment, at her door, a fitter removed wires from Azeurotel and installed Aztelekom equipment. The consumer was not asked for the consent of the consumer to replace the provider, suggesting that he and his neighbors go to Azeurotel to sign ready-made texts on the voluntary transfer from one provider to another. Since then, residents of the house have been paying monthly five manats more for the Internet.
Source: Turan News Agency