Azerbaijan ranked high in internet affordability, according to a recent survey published by Surfshark, an award-winning virtual private network (VPN) service based in the British Virgin Islands.
The 2020 Digital Quality of Life Index, released on August 9, surveyed 85 countries or 81 percent of the global population, based on five fundamental pillars that set standards for the digital quality of life (DQL), including internet affordability, internet quality, electronic infrastructure, electronic security and electronic government.
Azerbaijan, along with Israel and Canada got top marks in internet affordability criteria, which addresses the average number of hours worked to cover the cheapest broadband internet, according to Digital Information World. The Caspian country surpassed expectations on providing domestic users with good internet connectivity and higher levels of e-security, ranking similarly with 13 countries, including Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Uruguay. Azerbaijan also outranked Russia, Kazakhstan and Iran in these criteria categories.
The top ten ranking countries in the DQL index of Surfshark's research were Denmark, Sweden, Canada, France, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Israel, Japan, and Poland.
Azerbaijan’s information and communication technologies (ICT) sector has been steadily growing since 2005, according to data compiled by the World Bank. The rise was primarily attributed to the liberalization and modernization of the telecommunications industry, the improvement of national telecommunications infrastructure, the implementation of e-governance and other sector-specific policies. As a result, the overall number of internet users in Azerbaijan skyrocketed from only 17 percent of the population in 2008 to 73 percent in 2013. By 2014, wireless penetration per capita had grown to over 100 percent.
The private sector in Azerbaijan is actively engaged in developing the national ICT sector, pushing it even beyond the country's borders. AzerTelecom, a subsidiary of Azerbaijan’s first and fastest mobile operator Bakcell, is a key backbone internet provider that connects Azerbaijan with the global internet network and is currently implementing the Digital Silk Way project.
The project aims to develop a modern transit fiber optic (FO) infrastructure network connecting Europe and Central Asia through Georgia and Azerbaijan. It is expected to make an important contribution to accelerating digitalization, flexible transformation into a digital economy and the development of IT architecture in the region.
The project is expected to improve access to the Internet and digital services for 1.8 billion people residing in the Caucasus, Middle East, Central, and South Asia regions. One of the key components of the digital telecommunications corridor between Europe and Central Asia is the Trans-Caspian project for laying fiber-optic cables between Azerbaijan and Central Asian countries along the bottom of the Caspian Sea. AzerTelecom has already signed agreements with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to build the foundational cable lines.