Karabakh Telecom, the sole fixed and mobile telecoms operator in the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh (formerly known as Nagorno-Karabakh), plans to spend EUR11 million (USD12.8 million) to provide cheaper and higher-quality internet services. Arka News Agency quotes government spokesperson Vahram Poghosyan as confirming the investment – which he notes should be accompanied by a 50% cut in subscriber fees ‘very soon’, and a 20% reduction in mobile charges. However, in a blow to Karabakh Telecom, Mr Poghosyan also said that the telco ‘will lose its monopoly’ on the provision of fixed and mobile services in the territory, adding that Artsakh State Minister Araik Harutyunyan has sent an official message to Armenia’s three incumbent operators – MTS Armenia (VivaCell-MTS), VEON Armenia (Beeline) and U!com Armenia – to establish their presence in the disputed Republic, which is an Armenian-backed enclave within Azerbaijan unrecognised by the United Nations.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database Karabakh Telecom is a subsidiary of Lebanon-based Fattouch Investment Group and was founded in 2002 under the guidance of its chairman Pierre Fattouch. It launched commercial services on 1 February 2002 and has offered internet services in the Artsakh capital city Stepanakert since October that year, and in all the regions of the disputed territory since 2003. The operator offers a range of fixed, internet and wireless services with a PSTN network covering 95% of major regional centres and almost 100% of Stepanakert and its environs. Its GSM coverage stands at over 95% of the population, with a plan to increase that to 100% in the medium-term. It launched 3G services in June 2013 and in total, is thought to provide services to more than 110,000 customers (fixed and mobile), representing up to 75% market penetration of the enclave.