Total revenue of telecommunications companies operating in Tajikistan in the first nine months of 2019 was estimated at TJS1.778 billion (USD182 million), down from TJS1.813 billion in the same period of last year, according to the government’s Statistical Agency (Tajstat) quoted by news agency Asia-Plus. Combined income of state-backed fixed line operator Tajiktelecom (including Tojnet) and Tajik Post – both subordinate companies to regulator/sector stakeholder the Communication Service under the Government of Tajikistan – fell from TJS148 million in January-September 2018 to TJS146 million a year later (with no breakdown provided).
With telecoms revenue declining for the fourth consecutive year, the report links the downward trend to the state-run Unified Communication Transit Centre (UCTC, alternatively referred to as Unified Electronic Communications Switching Centre) which was established in January 2016. Mobile operators – by far the country’s biggest internet access providers – and other ISPs must pay for international internet traffic via the UCTC. Concerns over the UCTC echo a recent World Bank report criticising various aspects of the Tajik government’s telecoms regime, which has also prevented private sector operators from deploying their own fibre transmission links to China and Afghanistan, for instance. TeleGeography notes that a wide range of other factors have inhibited the development of Tajikistan’s communications sector, including economic hardship (with crucial foreign remittances hitting a low-point in 2016 and only partially recovering since), banning/blocking of international VoIP services and repeated mobile SIM card re-registration programmes – the latest of which obliges citizens to pay for a new style passport/ID to register their details in person or lose connectivity. Whilst the initial SIM re-registration deadline of 15 August 2019 has been extended to 15 February 2020 another new measure prevents citizens from registering more than two SIMs in total to their name.