Country Listing

Kyrgyzstan Table of Contents



Telecommunications in Kyrgyzstan, generally inadequate, suffer from the historically low priority accorded by Soviet authorities to development of that type of infrastructure. In 1994 only 364,000 main telephone lines, or one per twelve Kyrgyzstanis, were in service. Since independence a thriving black market has developed in cable stolen from existing telephone installations, removing many portions of the telephone system from operation. The average age of system components is about fifteen years. Because much existing equipment is operating at capacity, heavier service loads (which experts judge an absolutely necessary element of economic expansion) require large-scale equipment replacement. In 1991 about 600 lines connected Kyrgyzstan to the rest of the Soviet Union; sixty channels connected the republic to international lines via Moscow. In 1995 international calls still were connected through Moscow, allowing Kyrgyzstan to benefit indirectly from the general upgrading of services that has occurred in Russia in the early 1990s. In 1994 Kyrgyzstan received a loan of US$8 million and US$1.5 million in technical assistance from the European Bank for Recovery and Development (EBRD) to upgrade its telecommunications services, especially in the mountainous regions. The Ministry of Communications is responsible for local, national, and international telephone, telex, telegraph, and data communications. The ministry also is charged with postal services, radio and television broadcasting, and management of subscriptions and deliveries of news publications. Telecommunications, despite low tariffs, have been profitable enough to operate independently of the state budget since 1986. But without a revision of the tariff structure and institutional and regulatory restructuring, the state of telecommunications places a major constraint on the development of a market-oriented economy.

Kyrgyzstan Radio and Kyrgyzstan Television are state broadcasting companies. The two state-run national radio stations broadcast some English and German programming. One commercial radio station is in operation. In 1993 three hours of television programming were available per day; Kyrgyzstan Television receives its color broadcasts from the Secam network.

Data as of March 1996