Armenia, the former Soviet Republic bordering Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and Iran has more than 3 million population. Armenia’s long time conflict with its former Soviet partner and neighboring country Azerbaijan and subsequent sanctions imposed on it by Turkey had thwarted its economic growth after independence from Russian Communist regime. Mobile phone subscribers are more than 3.3 million but fixed telephone numbers around less than 0.6 million. Mobile phone subscribers have almost reached the saturation level considering the population of Armenia.
Telecommunications investments have made major inroads in modernizing and upgrading the outdated Soviet telecommunications network. Telecom sector is privatized and hence modernization and expansion in telecom sector is under progress. Privatization started in Mobile-cellular services by demolishing the monopoly in 2004. A second service provider began operations in mid-2005 domestic. Reliable modern fixed-line and mobile-cellular services are available across Yerevan in major cities and towns. Mobile telecom infrastructures are built in rural areas to reduce the gap between rural and urban areas.. The capital city Yerevan is connected to the Trans-Asia-Europe fiber optic cable through Iran to the south and Georgia to the north. Additional international service is available by microwave radio relay and landline connections to the other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, through the Moscow international switch, and by satellite to the rest of the world.
Armenia’s telecommunications market is comparatively small and nearing saturation. New business opportunity in telecom for service providers is less due to the dominance of ArmenTel in the wireline voice services and VivaCell-MTS in the mobile market. However, relative newcomer Orange could capitalise on interest in its mobile broadband services following the introduction of mobile number portability in 2014 and the enterprise wireline broadband market is ripe for exploitation. Independent telecommunication player U-COM , which has a large Internet and telephony user base and gained a mobile licence in 2013. New entrants play on pricing to get an entry to the market. Hence it will be increasingly difficult to derive meaningful returns on investment.
• Orange Armenia
• Beeline (Vimpelcom)
Fixed line operators
• Beeline/ArmenTel (Vimpelcom)
There are three mobile operators and one fixed line operator. Orange Armenia, Beeline (Vimpelcom) and Vicacell are the mobile service providers in Armenia. Beeline is the only fixed line service provider. With more than 2.1 million subscribers, Vivacell a company owned by MTS is the largest mobile operator in Armenia. Beeline has around 0.7 million subscribers, while Orange has around 0.5 milllion subscribers.
It is estimated that there are more than 1.4 million Internet users and more than 65,000 Internet hosts in Armenia. The Armenia Telephone Company, briefly ArmenTel, who offers fixed line services also is the largest telecommunications company in Armenia. It belongs to the second largest Russian mobile network operator VimpelCom (brand Beeline) since 2006.
Armentel’s only fiber optic connection to the Internet enters Armenia through Georgia (via Marneuli) and then connects to the rest of the Internet via an undersea fiber optic cable in the Black Sea. Armenia is connected to the Trans Asia Europe fiber optic cable system via Georgia, which runs along the railroad from Poti to Tbilisi to the Armenian border near Marneuli. At Poti, the TAE cable connects to the undersea Georgia-Russia system KAFOS which then connects to the Black Sea Fiber Optic Cable System. The BSFOCS is co-owned by Armentel.
Dial up is still used to connect to the internet. internet is highly priced and a very few are able to afford internet. The average total price for one hour of dial-up Internet service was about 68 cents. It is estimated that there are about 100,000 broadband subscribers in Armenia. Wireline and mobile broadband subscriptions will rise from 791,000 to 1.033 million over the five year period, with mobile and FTTH-based offerings driving growth.
DSL connectivity is offered by Beeline, Cornet, Arminco, and others. Ucom telecom company has built up the first FTTH (Fiber to the home) Network in Armenia providing convergent Triple play services including Internet, IPTV and Digital Phone services. Armenia’s internet access is delivered by Russian providers, occasionally resulting in censorship by Russian ISPs. In 2012 Russian authorities blocked kavkazcenter.com, resulting in it being blocked in Armenia. In 2014 five other websites were blocked due to filtering by the Russian telecommunications regulator Roskomnadzor. ISPs claimed the blocks were due to technical error and were removed.
GNC-Alfa is a telecommunications network services operator in Armenia. The Company owns a fiber-optic network passing along the Armenia-Iran gas pipeline. GNC-Alfa network is designed to provide wholesale transport network services to fixed and mobile operators and ISPs, as well as transit services via Armenia.
There are no optical fiber drawing companies in Armenia. Also there are no preforrm suppliers. Armenia depends on other countries to satisffy their customers for fiber optic cables.