Turkmenistan has monitored communication systems. Its telecommunications services are considered to be the least developed of all the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. Overall, the telecom market in this predominantly rural country is relatively small but has been trying boldly to expand in recent years.
The Internet penetration rate did not reach 15% by mid-2016. Fixed broadband penetration reached less than 1% by 2016. Market penetration is expected to remain low over the next years. However the mobile market has moved closer to a saturation phase with a subsequent slowing in its growth rate. Fixed-line penetration in Turkmenistan has not increased significantly, reaching only 12% by 2015.
Turkmenistan’s telecommunications market in this poor and predominantly rural country is relatively small. Its telecom services were considered to be the least developed of all the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries when they took shape. Since then, poor growth in telecom services can be attributed to a large extent to the slow development of the private sector and state control over most economic activities. Efforts to move towards a more market-oriented economy have been limited. Broadband access remains limited in scale and nature.
Turkmenistan is largely a desert country with intensive agriculture in irrigated oases and significant natural gas and oil resources. Although agriculture accounts for roughly 14% of GDP, it continues to employ nearly half of the country’s workforce. Turkmenistan’s autocratic governments have made little progress improving the business climate, privatizing state-owned industries, and combatting corruption, limiting economic development outside the energy sector. High energy prices in the mid-2000s allowed the government to undertake extensive development and social spending, including providing heavy utility subsidies.
Low energy prices since mid-2014 are hampering Turkmenistan’s economic growth and reducing government revenues. The government has cut subsidies in several areas, and wage arrears have increased. In January 2014, the Central Bank of Turkmenistan devalued the manat by 19%, and downward pressure on the currency continues. Turkmenistan continues to report GDP growth of nearly 10% per year and claims substantial foreign currency reserves, but non-transparent data limit international institutions’ ability to verify this information.
Turkmentelecom was founded in 1993 as the state-owned telecommunications company in Turkmenistan. The head office is located in the city of Ashgabat. It has branches in all regions of Turkmenistan. Turkmentelecom covers all the main target markets of information and communications technology services. The company provides telephony services (including ISDN), data networking, and Internet access. Turkmentelecom is the only telecom operator authorised to operate in Turkmenistan.