Mobile Phones Fight Ministry's Control Plan

Talk of creating a unified mobile phone network for Tajikistan has raised fears that lack of competition will drive up prices for the consumer.

Mobile Phones Fight Ministry's Control Plan

Talk of creating a unified mobile phone network for Tajikistan has raised fears that lack of competition will drive up prices for the consumer.

Monday, 9 March, 2009
As Shahodat Saidnazarova reports, the proposed plan would mean that all mobile phone calls would be routed through a central switching system.



It is not a new idea – the communications ministry proposed it in 2006, but the cabinet turned it down after some lobbying by the phone companies. Now the idea is back on the agenda.



The commercial phone companies have written an open letter to President Imomali Rahmon making it clear they are dead set against the plan.



For their part, officials have been trying to persuade the firms of the benefits, although most of these seem to be for the state rather than for the phone industry. They argue that centralising control of telecommunications will strengthen national security, make the industry more transparent, and earn the government some extra revenue.



Igor Klimko, director of the Tajikistan branch of the Beeline mobile phone company, disagrees, saying the initiative will hamstring the telecoms industry, which in turn will curb the country’s economy as a whole.



But he says the operating firms are prepared to accept a compromise, for example some kind of call monitoring centre which would satisfy all the government’s needs without encroaching on the phone industry’s rights – and for much less money.



Meanwhile, the government’s anti-monopoly agency, which comes under the economics and trade ministry, says it will not allow the private companies to lose out and will defend them if necessary.



Journalist Nurali Davlatov says consumers have benefited from a competitive market where prices have been driven down.
Tajikistan
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