More about mobile Internet in Turkmenistan

The letter below from our new column "Readers' corner" is published as received, unabridged and unedited

As many are aware, the national mobile network provider, Altyn Asyr (trademark TMCell), has recently introduced a fourth generation commercial network, LTE. It makes no sense to write about its performance and fees – they are extremely overpriced and accessible to just a few wealthy Turkmenistan residents. The rates for wired internet connection provided with the help of xDSL technology, long forgotten by the civilized world, are much talked about. Moreover, this type of internet connection is not available in all provinces. Until recently, the residents of Turkmenistan, actively browsing the worldwide web, preferred one-way satellite internet with an inbound channel via cell operators*.

The fees of satellite providers are still overpriced compared to worldwide rates, but are much lower compared to those offered by the Turkmen operators. Yet, subscribers are being tricked. The satellite provider Raduga (Rainbow) is gradually switching its customers from the outdated asynchronous (ADSL) to synchronous (SDSL) satellite internet connection**, without additional terrestrial transmit. Other providers are doing the same. Two-way synchronous internet is banned in Turkmenistan. If an antenna with such equipment is identified by the special services, the owner may face not only the confiscation of expensive equipment but serious charges could be brought against them. The majority of residents have no choice but to use the 3G internet offered by two providers – Turkmen TMCell or the subsidiary of Russia-based MTS. MTS is currently providing 3G service only to corporate clients though the MTS corporate sim card, which can be purchased at reasonable rates on the market, but a megabyte of internet traffic costs more compared to TMCell rates despite the fact that the connection is more stable. 3G provided by TMCell remains the most commonly-used internet access. However, the quality leaves much to be desired.

Previously, everybody complained about low traffic speed during peak hours and disrupted internet access in some districts. However, since the LTE launch, 3G bandwidth has been significantly curtailed resulting in frequent disruption even in the morning and during the day. In the evening from 6 p.m. till midnight it is even more problematic to connect to the Internet. One is suddenly disconnected and this happens not only in selected areas but everywhere. Hopefully after this article is published, the executives of the company will consider numerous subscribers' complaints and undertake measures to resolve the situation.

Editorial comment:

* One-way (asymmetric) internet connection is when the data is downloaded through satellite but data uploading is enabled via regular communication lines, in this case via mobile internet

** Two-way (symmetric) internet connection means data downloading and uploading are both via satellite

Source: TIHR