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2006 †N5(14)
Turkmenistan adopted this motto in developing the most important sector.

The independence of Turkmenistan marked the beginning of rapid development in the economy, science, culture and other spheres of life. The successful development of such sector as communications is among evident and revolutionary achievement. As a matter of fact, it is a connecting link of all sectors of the national economy and agriculture, the most important means of transmitting and receiving information for the population of the country.

He who rules information, rules the world, they say. Increasingly growing requirements of the world community to the speed, capacity and types of transmitted information have led to creation of absolutely new, high quality telecommunication technologies and infrastructure that are rapidly spreading all over the planet. Turkmenistan does not stay aside. Turkmenistan's purposeful policy on integrating into the world community has served as a starting point for the comprehensive modernization and development of telecommunications on the basis of new digital technology.

Immense changes in the telecommunications infrastructure began fifteen years ago when the process of replacing the out-dated analog telephone stations with the latest digital equipment started. The priority was given to Ashgabat. However, other cities and towns in other provinces of the state were not disregarded. Digital telephone stations manufactured by the leading world companies were also installed there. German "Siemens" company equipment was used to assemble the modernized digital long-distance and international telephone stations that made it possible to establish direct transit channels of communication with all parts of the world. The same stations were installed in all provincial centers providing regional subscribers with high quality communication for not only domestic but international calls as well.

The number of digital subscriber lines (DSL) is increasing in all cities. Creation of the reliable infrastructure of telephone communication is carried out in accordance with the National Program "Strategy of Economic, Political and Cultural Development of Turkmenistan until 2020". Currently, Turkmenistan's communication network accounts for 500 automatic telephone stations (ATS). The total capacity of all ATS makes up almost half a million numbers. Realizing the importance of modern means of receiving and transmitting information, the state is permanently investing in the development of Turkmenistan's telecommunications infrastructure. As of today, over USD 100 million has been invested in the development of the communications sector.

To modernize the networks, only the latest digital communication equipment, high-speed digital and fiber-optic transmission systems and other equipment meeting the world standards are used. All equipment imported from other countries has quality certificates complying with international ISO-9001 standard. Digital exchanges of such famous companies as Alcatel, Ericsson, Siemens, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd that were put into operation meet these requirements. The loan aimed at developing telecommunications infrastructure of Turkmenistan enabled our country to implement a number of large-scale projects. For instance, due to the growing number of digital subscriber lines, the inter-station "ring" connecting all automatic telephone stations of the capital city was upgraded to a higher level, making it possible to considerably increase the number of connecting communication channels. The radio telephone communication equipment working in the modern CDMA standard was installed in Ashgabat and adjoining Ruhabat district. Its initial capacity was about 4.5 thousand numbers, but it reached 2000 numbers at present time.


The ever growing demand for international and inter-city communication channels has led to creation of the global Trans-Asian-European Fiber Optic Communication Line (TAE FOCL). The "open-door" policy proclaimed by Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov gave Turkmenistan an opportunity to become a party to the project of construction of 27,000 km TAE FOCL from Urumqi (China) to Frankfurt-on-Mein (Germany). 708 km of this line were laid on the territory of Turkmenistan. Putting into operation the modern fiber-optic line has made it possible to solve the issue of introducing digital communication in Turkmenistan. TAE enabled the country to establish high quality inter-city and international communication channels allowing Turkmenistan to increase considerably the range of options and level of services.

Ashgabat-Balkanabat-Turkmenbashy communication line has become one of the branches of TAE that opened broad prospects for development of modern information and communication technologies. In accordance with the national program of telecommunications development, a large-scale project set to provide residents of the country's western region with reliable telephone communication was launched three years ago. World companies from USA, Germany, Turkey, Lebanon, Japan and China took part in the fiber-optic line construction. They supplied state-of-the-art construction and telecommunications equipment and materials and provided engineering and consultation services.

The commissioning of Ashgabat-Balkanabat-Turkmenbashy fiber-optic communication line extended the total length of the line to 1300 km. The line has connected telecommunication systems of Turkmenistan's eastern and western regions and provided high quality long-distance and international digital channels to all big settlements situated along the traffic.

Works on improving the communication system are going on. Currently, another stage of the comprehensive modernization of telecommunication networks of the country's western region is being completed in Balkan province. The big investment project implemented by the Ministry of Communications of Turkmenistan and Chinese Huawei Technologies Co Ltd provides for commissioning of over 20 base and extension digital telephone stations with a total capacity of 140 thousand numbers. It means that in the nearest future hundreds of thousands of residents of Balkan province, i.e. workers of petroleum sector and agriculture, will get an access to the latest type of telephone communication. In the future, realization of a whole number of projects aimed at developing modern information and communication technologies is planned in the province.

It should be stressed that Ashgabat-Balkanabat-Turkmenbashy project realized by the Ministry of Communication of Turkmenistan was financed by the Islamic Development Bank that provided a credit of USD 15.118 million. The successfully conducted tender on selecting the suppliers of construction equipment, optic cable, accessories and measuring equipment, etc. allowed our country to decrease the contract value of the project by more than half. Owing to the saved funds totaling USD 3.7 million during the construction of Ahal-Balkan fiber optic communication line, there was signed additional contracts with Siemens and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd companies for the supply of digital switchboard equipment with a capacity of 32 thousand telephone lines, updating software of existing digital telephone stations in Ashgabat and Mary and increasing the number of channels of international and long-distance telephone stations in these cities.


Until comparatively recently, a mobile phone was regarded as an exclusive object, not accessible to everyone in Turkmenistan as well as in other countries of the post-Soviet area. Owners of the elegant mini-telephone that can be taken out of the pocket at any time and any situation were respected and envied. Now, it is all in the past. A mobile phone is not a marvel today. It is an object of daily life of many Turkmenistan citizens, regardless of the place they live in city or village. Thanks to the interest and support of the Turkmen Government in development of the national system of cellular communication the number of mobile phone owners is growing every day.

The decree issued by the head of state in June 2004 marked the beginning of a new direction in development of the telecommunication infrastructure in Turkmenistan. According to the decree, the Communication Ministry was authorized to sign a contract with Siemens AG company, Germany, one of the world leaders in manufacturing telecommunication systems, for the delivery of equipment for cellular communication network of GSM standard with a capacity of 50 thousand numbers. According to the project, half of the total numbers had to provide residents and guests of the capital city, including the suburbs, with reliable cellular communication. The second half was intended for the provincial centers and other cities of Turkmenistan.

To provide high quality services to the national network subscribers, "Altyn Asyr" cellular communication enterprise was established at the Turkmen Ministry of Communi-cations. The enterprise is a structural division of "Turkmentelecom" State Electric Communication Company. In August 2004, "Altyn Asyr" enterprise became a member of the World Association of Operators of GSM cellular communication, where "TM-Cell" cellular network numbered 438 02 was registered as a national network of cellular communication of Turkmenistan.

At present, the number of networked subscribers exceeds 25 000. At the same time, work on expanding the coverage zone in Ashgabat area and adjoining towns and villages as well as in provincial centers and other cities of the country by means of delivery and installation of new base exchanges is under way.

The cellular communication equipment of GSM standard installed in Ashgabat makes it possible to provide subscribers with the whole range of additional services in addition to traditional telephone conversation. In particular, they are SMS (short message service), VMS (voice message service). A Call Center, "TM-Cell" network subscribers support service was also activated.

Work on establishment and development of the national telecommunications structure is going on. The State Program being developed by employees of the Communications Ministry provides for an increase in the cellular communication capacity to 450 000 numbers in the coming three years. It means the cellular communication will reach out to not only residents of cities and villages of Turkmenistan but people working in the remote areas. Evidently, it will not take long that the issue raised in the subtitle of this article becomes a reality...


Transformations in the sphere of telecommunications were not only confined to the development and modernization of the country's telephone network. A lot of work has been done to upgrade professional equipment in TV and Radio broadcasting network of Turkmenistan. The contract concluded between the Ministry of Communications and French Bouygues company enabled Turkmenistan to realize a large-scale project of re-equipping TV Center of the Turkmen TV and Radio Broadcasting Company. Two large audio and video recording studios fitted with state-of-the art equipment were installed and put into operation. "Miras" TV channel's broadcasting studio was modernized and video editors got the opportunity to use five modern editing rooms.


Having joined the world information space, the Ministry of Communica-tions and its divisions actively cooperate with many countries as a member of international organizations International Electric Communication Union, World Postal Union, regional commonwealth in the communication area. Business partnership based on the aspiration of the Turkmen state for further dynamic development of telecommunications system brings not only real fruits but recognition of colleagues from other countries.

In 2002, the recognized international organization Business Initiative Directions (BID) awarded the State "Turkmen Telecom" electric communications company a "golden" category for introduction of advanced technologies and high quality of communication. Just recently, Turkmen telecommunications has got a new prize. In early 2006, "Turkmen Telecom" was awarded the highest "platinum" category by the Business Directions Organization (BID) at the contest held in Madrid among the world companies and enterprises in the sphere of manufacturing and providing services. This high prize was awarded to the Turkmen telecommunications specialists for international quality of services and stable technical-economic growth. It was the mark given by the contest's selection committee consisting of representatives of official and business circles, scientists from leading world universities, experts in the sphere of quality, prominent people of art, as well as famous economists and specialists in the sphere of enterprise image.

The organizers of the 8th International Convention "The era of quality" and countries nominees from 38 countries showed their appreciation of the victory of their Turkmen colleagues by welcoming the Turkmen delegation by the storm of applause during the awarding ceremony held in Geneva.

The telecommunications sphere remains one of the rapidly developing and promising areas of the national economy. The State Program "Strategy of Economic, Political and Cultural Development of Turkmenistan till 2020" provides for further comprehensive development of communications infrastructure. According to this fundamental document, in the near future the capacity of telephone network of Turkmenistan will reach almost two million numbers, the number of cellular communication subscribers will increase substantially, the telephone network in the rural area will expand, digital microwave and fiber-optic communication lines with the total length of 4000 km will be put into operation. Certainly, the main attention will be paid to the communications quality that electric communications equipment, high-speed digital systems, TV and radio broadcasting equipment and other modern devices will provide in accordance with the world standards.

It should be added that the Ministry of Communications, along with fulfilling its obligation, which is to provide the national economy and population of Turkmenistan with communication services, is also engaged in realization of the town-building program. In the years of independence, a lot of work has been carried out to improve the social sphere. 13 thousand sq m of housing was built and commissioned. Over 100 families got the apartments. The Ministry of Communications financed the construction of two 12-storey luxury residential buildings. At present, construction of another three 12-storey buildings is under way. In total, twelve 12-storey luxury apartment buildings with improved lay-out will be built by 2020.


©Turkmenistan Analytic magazine, 2005