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“2005 Central Asian Broadband and Internet Markets”, a new report offered by Biz-lib.com, suggests that Armenia’s telecommunications sector is steadily growing. The level of investment in infrastructure and new services has begun to increase. The report warns, however, that there are major structural issues to be addressed in the sector. ArmenTel, the country’s national telecom provider, has exclusive rights to the provision of all telecoms services, including public switched telephony services and mobile telephony, in Armenia until 2013. The report notes that Internet services are outside ArmenTel’s monopoly. The country’s Internet market is small (penetration 7.5%), but has been developing steadily. However, there are still several major obstacles in the way of improved Internet connectivity. Not unexpectedly, these include poor telecom infrastructure; expensive telephone lines; the high cost of computer equipment relative to an average worker’s salary; political unrest in some regions of the country, which impedes infrastructure reform and intimidates potential sponsors and donors, and a heavy dependence on international funding, making long-range planning difficult. A permanent Internet link was established for Azerbaijan in 1995 through the country’s Academy of Science. The country has had dial-up Internet access since 1991. By early 2005, Internet penetration was around 6%. Georgia established a permanent link to the international Internet backbone in 1995, after having had non-permanent, dial-up Internet access since 1991. Internet use remains low (penetration 5%), but the market has shown growth and strong competition between ISPs. There are a handful of broadband services in place.

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