Turkmenistan’s fixed line monopoly provider Turkmentelecom has unveiled its first high speed internet option for residential customers, but most of the country’s population seem unlikely to rush to sign up for the new service. With the average monthly wage in the country standing at around USD620 per month, Central Asia Newswire reports that the telco has inaugurated a tariff offering unlimited usage at downlink speeds of up to 2Mbps for a staggering USD6,821 per month.
Despite the sky-high tariff the introduction of the service is something of a watershed moment, particularly for a country that until mid-2008 did not allow members of the public to apply for an internet connection. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in the wake of the supposed assassination attempt on the then president Saparmyrat Niyazov (in November 2002), the state placed restrictions on the media, including the internet, following which only Turkmentelecom was permitted to offer ISP services, leading to a five-fold increase in prices for access, whilst high speed facilities remained non-existent.
Subsequently, following Niyazov’s death in December 2006, two internet cafes in Ashgabat opened in February the following year, before domestic mobile network operator MTS Turkmenistan became the first private ISP of the new era when it launched mobile internet via GPRS and EDGE in April 2008.