24 january 2018

Central Asia news

Uzbek president demands cheaper and faster Internet

10.01.2018 11:17 msk

Fergananews


Photo from Day.uz website
The President of Uzbekistan has demanded to sharply reduce the cost of access to the Internet and quadruple the connection speed, bringing it to the level of the CIS countries by 2020.

The presidential press service reports that Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a meeting on the development of the ICT sphere (information and communication technologies) on 9 January where the fact that the average speed of Internet connections in the CIS countries is ten times higher than in Uzbekistan was reported.

The President expressed his dissatisfaction with the relatively bad standing of Uzbekistan’s ICT. In particular, the share of this sphere in the gross domestic product of South Korea is 9%, in Japan - 5.5%, in China and India - 4.7%, and in Uzbekistan - only 2.2%. An index on the state of information and communication development among 176 countries, Uzbekistan is ranked 95th.

"I was informed that 20 million people use the Internet in our country. However, due to the limited range of services provided through the national online services, most of the population uses it only for correspondence via Telegram," Mirziyoyev complained. He blamed the telecoms operators for not investing in expanding the telecommunications network into remote areas and to territories near roads and railways.

The head of the Ministry for the Development of Information Technologies and Communications (Mininfocom) Sherzod Shermatov admitted that "the speed of the Internet and its price are, unfortunately, still unsatisfactory," reports the news agency Gazeta.Uz. "The address [of the president to the parliament] had noted that we should at least double the speed of the external Internet in 2018. The President also stressed the need to aim at a fourfold increase in capacities at the meeting. Other priorities for Uzbekistan’s IT development include to ensure quality and to reduce costs," Shermatov said in the "Akhborot 24" programme of the "Uzbekistan 24" TV channel.

Earlier, the French human rights organization "Reporters without Borders" had repeatedly listed Uzbekistan as an "enemy of the Internet." Internet access in this country is still strictly regulated: special services regularly block most independent Internet resources.

At the same time, the authorities officially do not admit to such blocking. In June 2017, Mininfocom, responded to a request as to why the Fergana News website was blocked already for a long time by stating that providers are not responsible for the functioning and accessibility of individual sites on the Internet and advised to turn to the technical support of Fergana News and "the relevant authorized body for the restoration of violated rights."

Meanwhile, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has set up accounts on almost all significant social networks.

Earlier, in September 2016, Mirziyoyev opened a "virtual office" and forced ministers and the heads of state committees to follow his example. In July 2017, he ordered members and senators of the Oliy Majlis (parliament) to set up social media pages to report on their work and "to be closer to the people" in every possible way.

In 2011, the UN stated that disconnecting people from the Internet is a human rights violation and contravenes international law.

Fergana News Agency