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August 30, 2007

ACNIS Explores the Issues of Modern Communications

Yerevan—Today the Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) convened a policy discussion to consider the means of increasing the effectiveness of Armenia’s Modern Communication. The meeting brought together officials in charge of the communication systems, leading analyst-experts, social and political figures, media representatives.

In his opening speech, ACNIS director of administration Karapet Kalenchian pointed to the enormous progress that the Armenian communication system had achieved during the years of the Soviet Union. Kalenchian in his opening remarks stated, “Of course, the times have changed now. There is an unprecedented progress in the field of communication technology. Can we keep the pace of this progress and what are the expected barriers along the way? How should we proceed with the development of the system, considering the blockade that Armenia finds itself in?” Kalenchian expressed his hope that there will ensue an open and productive discussion.

ACNIS network administrator Ashot Turajyan presented the results of an analysis comparing telecommunication fees. According to the results of this analysis the seven indicators proved that in Armenia telecommunications is an “expensive service/pleasure” compared to not only its neighbors Georgia and Azerbaijan, but also Russia and the United States of America.

The monthly user charge for telephone subscribers (3,26 US Dollars equal AM Drams) in Armenia is less only compared to Moscow (9 US Dollars). The fees in Georgia, Azerbaijan and in the United States of America respectively are the following: 2,8; 2,35 and 2 US Dollars. Meanwhile, in the above mentioned countries it is only Armenia that has ascribed a different fee for legal entities: 6 US Dollars equal AM Drams. In other countries the telecommunication fee is the same for both physical and legal entities. It is also interesting to look at the fees for per-minute usage. In the countries that fell into the scope of the research per-minute fee is applied only in Armenia, Russia and USA. Moreover, if in Armenia there are two different types of per-minute charges - 0,015 and 0,027 US Dollars equivalent AM Drams, in Moscow in the event of payment thresholds the per- minute charge is 0.009 US Dollars, and in USA it is 0.01 US Dollars.

The facts are not in Armenia’s favor in terms of the fees charged for calls made from fixed network to mobile network also in terms of physical and legal entities. Only the national telecommunication fees are less in Armenia; the fee for one minute phone call is 0.06 US Dollars equal AM Drams, in Georgia it is 0.07, in Azerbaijan it is 0.08, in Moscow it is 0.16 and in USA it is 0.1 US Dollars. “These numbers provide serious ground for contemplation,” concluded Mr. Turajyan.

Former MP and economist Professor Tatoul Manasserian looking at the security concerns emphasized the need for government assistance in modernizing and in protecting the field “Being a small country, it is easier for Armenia to achieve progress in the field of telecommunications security. However, our country remains vulnerable and unprotected in this respect.” Professor Manasserian noted that the private and public service providers in setting a price do not take into consideration the consumer’s ability to pay for those services and concluded that without a secure communication system, a country cannot reach economic prosperity or political independence.

Andranik Alexanian, Executive Director of Arminco, Ltd. briefly discussed the near future possibilities of developing the internet communications system. In his opinion, the educational institutions have a big responsibility in assisting the communications field to become competitive. He argued: “There are no competent professionals in the field and the educational institutions are preparing very limited number of graduates.” He concluded that unless the educational institutions respond to the need, Armenia would have serious shortage of experts in the coming 10 to 15 years.

Armenian Progressive Liberal Party VP Edvard Antinian, Member of Heritage Party Executive Gevork Kalenchian, Representative of Armentel Ltd. Andrey Doumnov, “Softlink” Ltd. Director Armenak Khachatrian were among the participants of the roundtable.

The roundtable participants concluded by agreeing that there is a need to reexamine the importance of modernization of communication means in our society and the strategic importance of modern communications. All participants concurred that it is the duty of relevant authorities without further delay to look at and resolve the existing problems.

Founded in 1994 by Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs Raffi K. Hovannisian and supported by a global network of contributors, ACNIS serves as a link between innovative scholarship and the public policy challenges facing Armenia and the Armenian people in the post-Soviet world. It also aspires to be a catalyst for creative, strategic thinking and a wider understanding of the new global environment. In 2007, the Center focuses primarily on civic education, democratic development, conflict resolution, and applied research on critical domestic and foreign policy issues for the state and the nation.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am ; or visit www.acnis.am.


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