ITU praises Azerbaijan’s ICT sector

By: Nigar Orujova

Azerbaijan is one of the fastest developing countries in the world in terms of Information and Communications Technologies, Head of the International Telecommunication Union Area Office for CIS Countries Orozobek Kaiykov said.

He said the developments in the region’s ICT sector is another proof for his remark.

“Azerbaijan has had a strong growth in mobile communication and mobile and fixed broadband access to the Internet in recent years. I believe that in the coming years, the country will achieve even greater successes in this area,” he said.

However, assessing the level of internet penetration in different countries, it is necessary to keep track of quality of broadband services given to the end users, he added.

“Some countries forget about the quality of services. In this case, of course, it is not possible to talk about the effectiveness of services. For example, when we say that a school is provided with 2 Mbit/s Internet access, it is necessary to take into account that how many computers are used there. The number of computers is essential in measuring internet speed.” Kaiykov added.

Today, each country is keen on upgrading the level of Internet access speed per capita. The rates in Korea (10 Mbit/s) and Europe (2 Mbit/s) can be cited as an example here. It is important to know how the Internet traffic is used at large, as a low-speed access will not meet the needs of users who use the internet to access video content.

The ITU’s State of Broadband Report 2014 puts Azerbaijan on the 63 place with 58.7 percent in terms of internet penetration among individual users, among 191 countries. The world average is 37.9 percent.

In terms of fixed broadband per 100 residents in Azerbaijan, the index is 17 percent. This comes as the global average in this segment is 9.4 percent. The country also took the 46th place with 43.9 percent for the degree of penetration of mobile broadband. The global average in this index is 26.7 percent.

Transition to digital TV

Azerbaijan has the required material and technical basis for full transition to digital television standard in 2015, Kaiykov said.

He said the member states of the ITU Regional Conferences in 2004-2006 have repeatedly announced June 17, 2015 as a fixed date for replacing the analog TV signal with digital signal.

“However, this does not mean that all countries should unconditionally move to digital TV signal on the date. They can combine analog and digital broadcasting. They only should care that the analog transmitters do not interfere with digital ones. In addition, owners of analog transmitters do not need to ask for protection from the effects of digital transmitters. However, if the analog transmitters interfere in the works of digital transmitters in neighboring countries, then these countries have the full right to require protection against harmful interference of the analog transmitters,” Kaiykov added.

In economic terms, another important issue is parallel use of analogue and digital broadcasting, he stressed, as the combination of the two standards increases the costs.

“Therefore, the countries should make every efforts to transit to digital broadcasting by the deadline,” he said.

The main reason behind the delay is lack of funds, as this process is quite expensive, Kaiykov said. “I think that Azerbaijan has enough money to finally move to digital broadcasting standard by the deadline.”

Currently, digital TV signal covers 98 percent of Azerbaijan’s population. The social package consists of 12 channels. Broadcast of the digital content is performed in MPEG-4 format. For the transition to digital broadcasting, subscribers must purchase a decoder, the cost of which in the local market is 25-30 manats ($31.8-38.2).