Whether Tajikistan Internet is worth money spent on it?

11 months ago Web Desk 0

Tajikistan’s communications service agency says it has no way to lower Internet prices. Local experts, however, consider that the Internet prices could be lowered several times, there would be a desire.


The communications service agency is not going to reduce the price for Internet to support development of online (distance) leaning in Tajikistan.


Recall, Deputy Head of the Communications Service under the Government of Tajikistan, llhom Atoyev, told reporters in Dushanbe on July 13 that they cannot afford to reduce the price for Internet “because its high cost results from transit prices.”


“We cannot afford to reduce Internet prices until we depend on Internet transit,” said Atoyev, “The Internet cost will reduce only when we implement the Digital CASA Tajikistan Project.”


According to him, the implementation of the Digital CASA Tajikistan Project has been suspended due to the novel coronavirus crisis.


Tajik official noted that the problem of the online learning in the country was the fact that the majority of pupils and students in Tajikistan do not have Internet-enabled gadgets.


At the same time, Atoyev promised that the Internet prices will not be raised this year.


The Digital CASA Project was presented in Tajikistan in summer 2017 and it reportedly builds on an idea of connecting Central Asia and South Asia by a single fiber optic line.


Digital CASA Program is expected to increase access to more affordable internet services, improve government’s capacity to deliver digital public services and facilitate opportunities for digitally‐enabled income generation. The potential participants are Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.


Specific components of Digital CASA Program are tailored to each country on the basis of a broad Menu of Options.


The outcomes of Digital CASA Regional Program include: increase in the number of people provided with access to the Internet; significant social benefits related to more efficient delivery of services and enhanced citizen participation, including in health, education, among others; increase in the number of e‐Services and Applications Utilizing the Shared Services Platform; development of the ICT sector and digital job opportunities through increased productivity of firms, technological innovations across industries; facilitation of cross‐border trade of knowledge, products (e.g. e‐commerce) services across the Region; and generation of indirect government revenue sources.


According to official data, 3.180 million people in Tajikistan use Internet.


There should be no monopolists!


Starting in 2018, authorities deprived local fixed-lined and mobile service providers of the right to buy data traffic from neighboring countries. It cited security as grounds for the prohibition. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must now buy data from a structure called the Unified Electronic Communications Switching Center and the current price for megabit per second, according to local experts, is 10-15 dollars. .


Experts note that the Communications Service under the Government of Tajikistan and relevant bodies have been doing everything so that the communications sector degrades further.


Over the past six years, incomes of the communications sector have decreased – from 540 million U.S. dollars in 2013 to 275 million U.S. dollars in 2019.


In April last year, the Antimonopoly Agency under the Government of Tajikistan initiated increase in the Internet prices from 30.00-35.00 somoni per 1 gigabyte to 63.00 somoni per 1 gigabyte.


“Meanwhile, mobile phone companies last year offered Internet packages with 1 gigabyte costing 8.00 somoni, which was 7 times cheaper than the Internet price initiated by the Antimonopoly Agency,” an expert told Asia-Plus in an interview.


“That is, even with a margin the Internet price would be only 8.00 somoni. And it is clear that no one businessman will sell at a loss,” the expert said.


If the Internet price is lowered, the number of Internet users will increase in the country, he added.


Another important issue to be resolved is an abolition of a 5% excise duty on communications that would ease a tax burden on the communications sector.


But the main reason for expensive Internet in Tajikistan is a new price at which Toiktelecom (read Communications Service) sells Internet to ISPs – 50,000 U.S. dollars per gigabit instead of the previous 20,000 U.S. dollars.


“If all these restrictions are removed, the problem of expensive Internet will be solved by itself,” the expert said.


For comparison, the geographical location of Kyrgyzstan is similar to the geographical location of Tajikistan, but Internet costs there several times cheaper – 1 gigabyte of Internet in Kyrgyzstan costs 27 cents.


Besides, according to data of Speedtest Global Index, Kyrgyzstan ranks 97th in terms of mobile Internet speed, while Tajikistan ranks 124th. In terms of optics, Kyrgyzstan reportedly ranks 71st, while Tajikistan is on 96th place. .


Source: Asia Plus