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Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan Boost Central Asia’s Telecommunications Industry

By Vusala Abbasova October 16, 2021

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Telecommunications operators from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan agreed to cooperate within the Trans Caspian Fiber Optic project.

Azerbaijan’s leading wholesale telecommunications operator, AzerTelecom, and its Kazakhstani counterpart, Transtelecom, have agreed to cooperate with telecom operators represented in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan within the Trans Caspian Fiber Optic (TCFO) project.

As part of the CIS GCCM 2021 Conference, held in Nur-Sultan this week, AzerTelecom and Transtelecom signed two memorandums of cooperation — one with Telegraph 42 Management Gmbh, represented in Uzbekistan, and another with ElKat, represented in neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

The Trans Caspian Fiber Optic project aims to construct a fiber-optic cable line along the bottom of the Caspian Sea between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Azerbaijani and Kazakhstani telecommunications operators launched the project in late 2019.

Speaking at the conference, AzerTelecom’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Fuad Allahverdiyev, said the implementation of the TransCaspian Fiber Optic (TCFO) project opens up new opportunities for the development of cooperation not only between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan but also between the countries of Central Asia.

“We believe that in light of the increase in Internet consumption all over the world, this large-scale digital project will contribute to the development of the telecommunications industry in the region, as well as the expansion of business between countries and companies,” Fuad Allahverdiyev stated.

The fiber-optic cable stretching over nearly 400 km (249 mi) along the bottom of the Caspian Sea is expected to transmit data with a capacity of at least 4-6 terabits per second. 

Galikhan Mukhamed-Rakhimov, who heads TCFO in Transtelecom, believes the project is the only alternative to the existing terrestrial routes.

“TransCaspian Fiber Optic is a huge digital infrastructure project. Today we see it as the only alternative to the existing terrestrial routes. I am sure that with our partners from AzerTelecom we will be able to reach a fundamentally new level of service provision, and ensure the long-awaited diversification of routes between Europe and Asia,” he said. 

Meanwhile, once completed, the fiber-optic cable will form a part of the much bigger Digital Silk Way project.

Launched by NEQSOL Holding in 2018 and implemented by its subsidiary AzerTelecom, Digital Silk Way project aims to build a modern transit fiber-optic (FO) infrastructure network connecting Europe to Central and South Asian markets. The project is supposed to develop the region’s digital ecosystem in line with the most advanced world standards, as well as improve access to the Internet and digital services for those residing in the Caucasus, Middle East, Central and South Asian regions.

At the same tine, the Digital Silk Way project also provides the possibility of turning the region into a potential destination for global hyperscalers like Google, Amazon, Netflix, and others. 

In 2020, the Global Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum held in the US selected the Digital Silk Way project as one of the top five infrastructure projects in Asia.