REEDOM ON THE
traffic to almost all other ISPs.
It was the first company to implement a WiMAX technology
project in the country in February 2010, laying the foundation for the use of wireless, broadband,
and unlimited internet access. The largest ISP operating outside of Baku is the state-owned
AzTelekom, with ownership ties to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies
Azertelecom, owned by Azerfon, completed its fiber-optic network in 2011 and is now
competing for Delta Telecom’s business.
Up until 2000, ISPs in Azerbaijan were required to obtain a license; however, in 2000 this licensing
procedure was no longer required. As a result, according to the information provided by the
Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies, today there are over 40 ISPs operating
in the country with only three—Aztelekomnet, Bakinternet, Azdatakom—being state owned.
Delta Telecom and Azertelecom are two private companies that provide access to the international
With Azertelecom’s growing role in the internet business, government control over ICTs has
become more apparent, particularly after it was uncovered in 2011 that Azerfon is largely owned
by President Ilham Aliyev’s daughters.
Furthermore, there is a lack of transparency over the
ownership of other ICT resources. While there are no specific legal provisions or licensing
requirements for ISPs in Azerbaijan, the MCIT refuses to answer inquiries regarding the ownership
of license holders.
According to clause 4.2(a) of the “Rules for Using Internet Services,” internet providers can
unilaterally suspend services provided to subscribers in cases that violate the rules stipulated in the
law “On Telecommunications.” Furthermore, a provider can suspend the delivery of internet
services in certain circumstances including in times of war, events of natural disasters, and states of
emergency, though none of these legal provisions were employed in 2012-2013.
Usage of mobile phones in Azerbaijan has continued to grow steadily. There are three mobile
service providers using the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) standard: Azercell,
Azerfon, and Bakcell. In 2009, Azerfon, in a partnership with Britain’s Vodafone, was the only
company with a license for 3G service; however, in response to a number of critical media reports,
Azercell and Bakcell were issued licenses in 2011, breaking Azerfon’s monopoly over the 3G
market. Azercell and Bakcell reduced prices to increase demand for mobile internet when they
launched 3G services.
As a result, the number of mobile internet users on the Azercell network—
“Azerbaijan country profile,” Open Net Initiative, November 17, 2010, http://opennet.net/research/profiles/azerbaijan.
Yashar Hajiyev, “Azerbaijan,” European Commission, accessed August 30, 2012, http://bit.ly/1fz6jF9.
“Azerbaijan Network,” Azertelecom.az, accessed September 5, 2012, http://www.azertelecom.az/en/aznetwork/.
Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
Khadija Ismayilova, “Azerbaijani President’s Daughter’s Tied to Fast‐Rising Telecoms Firm,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,
June 27, 2011, http://www.rferl.org/content/azerbaijan_president_aliyev_daughters_tied_to_telecoms_firm/24248340.html.
Response of the Ministry of Communication to a written request for information.
“Searching for Freedom: Online Expression in Azerbaijan”, The Expression Online Initiative, November 2012,
“Azercell reduces prices for mobile internet services (Azerbaijan),” Wireless Federation, November 28, 2011,