2020  N1-2(178-179)
The Government of Turkmenistan and President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov attach great importance to the dynamic development of the communications and telecommunications sector. At the same time, special attention is paid to digitalization of all sectors of the national economy, introduction of the latest technologies and equipment, as well as establishment of mutually beneficial international cooperation.
These trends found reflection at the International Exhibition and Scientific Conference of Telecommunications, Telemetry and Information Technologies "Trkmentel-2019", which was held in Ashgabat at the end of 2019. The industry forum was organized by Trkmenaragatnayk agency (Turkmen communications) of the Ministry of Industry and Communication and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Turkmenistan. The international exhibition demonstrated Turkmenistan's achievements in the information technology and telecommunications industry, as well as trends and development prospects in this area.
Modern technologies were presented in the exhibition sections such as telecommunications, telemetry and measuring equipment, wireless and broadband communications, equipment for professional audio and video recording, cable products and accessories, communication services, special equipment, logistics and others.
Communications and telecommunications are currently one of the most promising and dynamically developing sectors of the national economy of Turkmenistan. In recent years, the number of the Internet users has increased and new communication standards have been introduced in the country. Development of a national model of an electronic document management system is a new stage in the innovative development of communications.
More than 90 exhibitors demonstrated their capacities and services at the forum, including Turkmen and foreign companies and enterprises operating in the communications sector. The foreign participants of the forum included companies from the UK, Germany, Israel, Spain, China, Monaco, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine, France, Sweden, Switzerland and other countries.
The national potential in this area was presented by Asman Oky company, which is promoting digitalization of the national economy; Ykjam Aragatnayk company, developer of the online taxi application; Trkmen Tranzit company, specializing in cyber security; as well as Tmcars and Sara online trading and advertising platforms. The local telephone brand Milli One presented its smartphones, phones, computers and tablets that will be on the local market in 2020.
The state-owned communications enterprises of Turkmenistan presented their innovations at the exhibition. Cellular communication company Trkmentelekom and the Ashgabat City Telephone System (ACTS) announced their regular discounts on Internet tariffs.
The foreign exhibitors included the leading companies in the sphere of information and telecommunication technologies, such as HUAWEI, Space Systems International Monaco, Cisco, Apple, Nokia, Sony, Samsung, DHL, who are the long-standing partners of Turkmenistan.
Network operators from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Ukraine showed strong interest in the joint work on creation of common communication centers and increasing communication channels with major Internet providers.
Turkmen companies and individual entrepreneurs presented a wide range of products and services in the sphere of Internet technologies, security systems, subscriber and computer equipment and mobile phones that are meant to promote Turkmenistan's gradual transition to digitalization of all management processes.
The information market should become one of the main sectors of Turkmenistan's economy, as it can significantly influence the development of other areas and macroeconomic processes as a whole.
In this regard, the launch of the Unified Portal of Public Services and Functions was a landmark event. This service was presented during the exhibition Trkmentel-2019. This web portal - e.gov.tm - is an automated one-stop-shop system to provide public online services for citizens and businesses.
A large area at the exhibition was occupied by the information stands describing international cooperation. Turkmenistan, represented by Trkmenaragatnayk agency (Turkmen communications), is a full-fledged member of the Regional Commonwealth in the Field of Communications (RCC).
Turkmenistan plans to lay down new fiber-optic cables in the capital city and the regions to provide consumers with high-quality telecommunication services and increase the data transmission rate. This will help to significantly improve the exchange of interdepartmental information and introduce new types of electronic services.
Internet banking and mobile banking services are being actively introduced in the country that can be used to make non-cash payments both in Turkmenistan and abroad, thus simplifying commodity-money relations and ensuring their security.
One of the important outcomes of the forum was the Agreement between the governments of Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan signed by the communication operators of the two countries on joint construction, ownership and use of Turkmenistan - Azerbaijan fiber-optic communication lines along the bed the Caspian Sea.
The implementation of this project will connect the cities of Turkmenbashi and Siazan and strengthen cooperation in improving the transit telecommunication routes between Asia and Europe. The need for exchange of information between continents will require the expansion of the Internet traffic starting from 200-400 gigabits per second and finishing with 4-5 terabyte per second.
Telecommunication company Trkmentelekom and LLC AzerTelecom became partners in the project for construction of this line. Japanese companies are also ready to join the laying of an underwater fiber-optic cable between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.
The implementation of projects on laying fiber-optic cable lines under the Caspian Sea along the routes Azerbaijan - Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan - Turkmenistan started in mid-January 2020. The length of the Azerbaijan-Turkmenistan subsea communication line is 300 km. The completion of the project is scheduled for 2021-2022. The line will satisfy the data traffic needs of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
Five international fiber-optic communication lines pass through Turkmenistan at the moment, including Ashgabat-Badzhigiran (Iran), Serhetabat - Herat (Afghanistan), Imamnazar - Akin (Afghanistan), Turkmenabat - Bukhara (Uzbekistan) and Garabogaz - Fetisov (Kazakhstan).
Thanks to the laying of high-tech fiber-optic lines in Turkmenistan, the number of subscribers of wire and cellular communications and Internet is increasing annually, and the number of communication channels is growing. In the coming years, Trkmenaragatnayk agency plans to implement new large-scale projects. Work is underway at an accelerated rate to increase the range of communications services in rural areas.
At the same time, connecting to international and creating national information networks poses a threat to information security, which led to the establishment of a special cyber security service under Trkmenaragatnayk agency. Both Turkmen and foreign companies presented their new products in this area. For example, Russian company Sigur, provider of security systems to such large companies as Gazprom, Rosneft, defense industry enterprises and banks, has recently begun supplying access control systems for the under-construction TAPI gas transmission system.
In recent years, the country's Internet user network has expanded significantly, and new communication standards are being introduced. The Institute of Telecommunications and Informatics of Turkmenistan was also established in 2019, focusing on training multidisciplinary IT specialists.
One of Kazakhstan's leading telecom operators, KAZTRANSCOM, which has built its own backbone optical network that interfaces with Russian, Chinese, Kyrgyz and Uzbek networks, is expected to be connected with Turkmenistan in 2020 that will open up new opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries.
Turkmen company Beik Daragt is the supplier of fiber optic cable of various capacitances, which is in great demand in the Turkmen market. This company also provides various services, including designing and deployment of networks using GPON technology, installation of broadband access systems, television and radio networks, including IPTV, access control and video surveillance and much more.
Beik Daragt partners with well-known Russian companies SoyuzKabel and Commeng. In addition, the company participates in the construction of the Ashgabat - Turkmenabat autobahn and the Ashgabat City Complex.
More telecommunication products branded "Made in Turkmenistan" have recently appeared in the domestic market. For example, in 2020, CJSC TehnoMerkez launched the production of electronics under the national brand "Milli one", including cell phones, laptops, tablets and POS terminals. Turkmen company Ady Gijeler, specializing in production of LED lamps and training computers for first-graders only, launched the production of TV sets with built-in IP tuners at the beginning of 2020.
On 1 June 2019, Turkmen company Asman Oky in partnership with Agabat ACTS and Joint-Stock Bank Rysgal introduced online ticket sales for railway passenger transport.
In January 2020, the draft "Rules for Online Sale of Goods" was presented to the Government of Turkmenistan. The document aims to develop electronic commerce and Internet shops. "Electronic commerce is one of the most important components of the modern digital environment," President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov said. As was noted at a government meeting, Internet shop services in the retail system will have a positive impact on improving the quality of services to the population and establishment of competitive market relations.
There is a growing number of internet services in the country that make it easier for individuals and legal entities to make certain transactions. For example, the mobile application "Sara" offers a new online service, such as payment for telephone, IPTV and Internet.
Starting 1 January 2020, the customs authorities of Turkmenistan completely switched to full-scale electronic customs declarations through ASYCUDA World information system developed by UNCTAD. This system helps to reduce up to 14 times the period of goods processing. ASYCUDA World is now used by customs authorities in more than 90 countries around the world.
In 2020, Turkmendemiryollary agency of the Ministry of Industry and Communication of Turkmenistan launched a new service for passengers, i.e. free access via high-speed Wi-Fi to media content, including movies and music.
The programmatic work is currently under way in the country for implementation of the Concept on Development of Digital Economy in Turkmenistan for 2019-2025, which is aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of all sectors of the national economy and putting them on an innovative path of development.
Digitalization of the regions is an important aspect of this work. As part of this work, in December 2019, specialists of Trkmenaragatnayk agency introduced an electronic document management system in the administration of Akhal province by installing relevant equipment and software. Similar work continues to connect enterprises and institutions of this region to the electronic document management.
The introduction of the electronic document management system in the regions and districts of Turkmenistan will contribute to enhancing the efficiency of interagency cooperation and make it possible to speed up the process of decision making and monitoring the implementation of state, industry and regional programs. In addition to economic benefits, it will also help improve work efficiency.
This year, Turkmenistan will introduce "Electronic Tax" system in the document management of the Tax Administration and subordinate organizations of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. The Electronic Tax system has been developed in accordance with the Concept on Development of Digital Economy in Turkmenistan for 2019-2025 and with the view of optimizing taxation activities.
In April 2015, Turkmenistan launched the first-ever communications satellite Trkmenlem 520E that was built by French company Thales Alenia Space. The satellite was taken to a geostationary orbit by Falcon 9 booster of the US company SpaceX from the launch site at Cape Canaveral. Nowadays, the government of Turkmenistan works on launching the second satellite into the low Earth orbit and explores options of partnership with Russian companies to successfully address this issue.
Speaking about the prospects of the Turkmen-Russian interaction in space, the vice president of the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, pilot-cosmonaut, Hero of the Russian Federation Yuri Baturin, who recently visited Ashgabat, noted that such partnership is possible primarily in the field of satellite launches, space control and training of staff.
"Russia is ready to provide advisory support or any other assistance, if necessary. If Turkmenistan wants to send the first Turkmen cosmonaut into space, we can provide training," the vice president of the academy said. During his visit to Ashgabat, which was organized by the Russian Embassy, he met with Ashir Garayev, Head of the Space Department of Turkmenaragatnashyk agency of the Ministry of Industry and Communication of Turkmenistan.
"Digitalization of all sectors of the high technology oriented national economy is one of the priorities of the state policy, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov emphasizes. This is also evidenced by the adoption of the Concept on Development of Digital Economy in Turkmenistan in 2019-2025. This concept aims to accelerate the development of the economy and, through the use of digital technologies, improve the social-living conditions of the population and create conditions for bringing services to a new level."