Uzbekistan Table of Contents
The Soviet-era telecommunications system was centralized, with Moscow acting as the hub for routing international communications. Investment in this system was generally low throughout the Soviet era, leaving the republics with low-quality equipment and service that have deteriorated further in the first years of independence. In the early 1990s, the installation of new lines dropped significantly in Uzbekistan. Recognizing the vital role of telecommunications in any modernization process, the government has sought international investment in updating its systems.
Beginning in 1992, the Ministry of Communications has had responsibility for all modes of telecommunications, plus postal service and all print and broadcast media. Its purview also extends to construction and some manufacturing operations. Its Uzbekistan Telecommunications Administration (Uzbektelecom) includes fourteen enterprises, one in each of the country's thirteen regions plus one in Tashkent. Some twenty-six other communications enterprises are controlled directly. A planning enterprise is in charge of reconfiguring the transmission facilities designed by Soviet authorities for broadcast across the entire Soviet Union. Many of the Soviet system's technical operations, such as frequency control and international connections, were centered in Moscow, meaning that Uzbekistani broadcast personnel have had to absorb all those functions without the expertise to manage all the technical aspects of an independent national broadcast system. Long-term plans call for decreased involvement by the ministry and decentralization, with the operation gradually turned over to private enterprises.
In 1994 Uzbekistan's telephone system served about 1.46 million customers, or about 7 percent of the population. Of that number, 1.12 million were in urban areas and 340,000 were rural customers; 1.08 million were residential customers and 380,000 were businesses. The official waiting list for telephone installation included 360,000 individuals, not counting an estimated 1 million who had not registered but required service. Average waiting time was three to five years. Of the 1.86 million lines existing in 1994, nearly all were manufactured in the former Soviet Union or in Eastern Europe. An estimated 20 percent of urban lines used switching equipment that no longer was in production, and about half of those lines were at least twenty years old. Because of these conditions, lack of spare parts is an increasing source of customer dissatisfaction and faulty service. Installation efficiency dropped significantly in the early 1990s. For example, in Tashkent in 1987 some 42,500 new telephones were installed; in 1992 only 9,000 new telephones were installed, although requests increased to 50,000 that year. In the mid-1990s, the Ministry of Communications lacked the technology to install digital telephone technology. Tashkent is the hub for international telephone connections. In 1993 nearly 90 percent of international calls passed through that city (only about 0.03 percent of total calls made in Uzbekistan were international).
In 1993 the Ministry of Communications purchased an Intelsat A satellite earth station and made agreements with several Western firms to establish thirty stations of international television broadcast programming from Japan, Southeast Asia, the United States (in cooperation with American Telephone and Telegraph), Western Europe (through Germany), and Pakistan. The satellite broadcasts were available, however, only in targeted locations such as large hotels and government offices. In 1995 a Turkish satellite began relaying communications to Azerbaijan and all the Central Asian states. In 1994 negotiations among ten regional countries discussed installation of an 11,000-kilometer fiber-optic link between Europe and Asia, which would terminate in Tashkent and provide access to all the Central Asian states.
Data as of March 1996
Uzbekistan Table of Contents