Azerbaijan’s Communication and Information Technologies Minister, Ali Abbasov, has told local press that the privatisation of state-owned national telco AzTelekom may not happen as soon as originally envisaged due to technical reasons. Abbasov said, ‘The…telecommunications system of Azerbaijan needs modernisation. The price of the system will be higher. The issue is being discussed now,’ adding that the network was presently 70% digital. Accountancy firm Ernst & Young is dealing with documenting the privatisation of AzTelekom and BakTelekom, another state-owned telco which offers services in the capital Baku. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the country’s telephone system is a hodge-podge of old Soviet era technology, cable and microwave links and satellite services. The majority of serviceable land lines are in the capital Baku, and hundreds of small communities have no access to public telephone services at all. The main rivals to BakTelekom and AzTelekom are AzEuroTel, a 50/50 joint venture between LUKoil Europe and the Ministry of Communications and IT, which operates mainly in the capital city, offering services to business users, and CATEL, a US-Azerbaijan joint venture which launched CDMA-based wireless in the local loop services in 2003.