The Condition of The Internet in Armenia
In 2011, it was reported that a Georgian woman, digging for copper near the border with Armenia, accidentally cut through a fibre optic cable and inadvertently cut of the Internet for the whole of Armenia. The service was out of action for five hours due to the nature of Armenia's Internet supply, although the provision of Internet access to the citizens of Armenia, and the ways in which those citizens connect to it, is changing rapidly.
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Armenia has a population of approximately 3.2 million people. The latest recorded figures (for 2010) put the number of Internet users at around 1.4 million, representing about 47 percent of the population. Sixty four percent of schools in Armenia have Internet access in their premises, while the country averages around 18 PCs per 100 inhabitants.
There are three primary Internet providers in Armenia: ArmenTel, GNC-Alfa and FiberNet Communication. The majority of the service is provided through a single fibre optic cable (hence the unfortunate spade-related outage) which runs through Georgia and connects with the Trans-Asia-Europe Fiber-Optic cable system and then the Black Sea Fiber Optic Cable System. All of these providers offer dial-up services, and until 2010, this was the only means of Internet connection. The prices were very high and few people in Armenia were connected. As of 2010, Beeline, Vivacell MTS and Orange sell portable USB modems which has seen the cost of Internet connection fall dramatically and so usage rise considerably.
Telecommunications sales of all kinds, including Internet, plummeted in Armenia in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis. In the following years, fixed line growth was static, but mobile connection and broadband have seen increases in usage. Mobile connection via USB modems has increased five-fold from 2006 to the present day, with Orange, one of the few foreign companies providing services, aggressively marketing in the country. As of December 2011 there were 134,000 broadband users, with a service provided via Beeline. This trend is likely to continue as consumers, still suffering the effects of the global downturn, look for cheap ways to get connected. In 2011, the Armenia government announced a plan to construct a National Broadband Network. In the contemporary world, broadband is increasingly necessary to conduct business activity and deliver a range of services from health and education to entertainment. The broadband network should see positive economic benefits for Armenia as it conducts business with other countries.
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