Telecommunications in Belarus

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Telecommunications in Belarus involves the availability and use of electronic devices and services, such as the telephone, television, radio or computer, for the purpose of communication.

Telephone system[edit]

  • Telephone lines in use: 3,9741 million (2011).[1]
  • Mobile/cellular: 10.3 million (2011).[1]
  • The phone calling code for Belarus is +375.

The Ministry of Telecommunications controls all telecommunications originating within the country through its carrier unitary enterprise, Beltelecom.

Telephone booths in Minsk, September 2007

Minsk has a digital metropolitan network; waiting lists for telephones are long; fixed line penetration is improving although rural areas continue to be undeserved; intercity - Belarus has developed fibre-optic backbone system presently serving at least 13 major cities (1998). Belarus's fibre optics form synchronous digital hierarchy rings through other countries' systems.

International connection[edit]

Belarus is a member of the Trans-European Line (TEL), Trans-Asia-Europe Fibre-Optic Line (TAE) and has access to the Trans-Siberia Line (TSL); three fibre-optic segments provide connectivity to Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine; worldwide service is available to Belarus through this infrastructure; Intelsat, Eutelsat, and Intersputnik earth stations.

In 2006 it was announced that Belarus and Russia completed the second broadband link between the two countries. The Yartsevo-Vitebsk cable. The capacity of this high speed terrestrial link which based on DWDM and STM technology is 400Gbit/s with the ability to upgrade in the future.[2]

In 2007 Beltelecom signed agreement with Russian company Synterra to build transborder connection. The connection of primary networks of Beltelecom and Synterra pass across the Belarusian-Russian border on the route Vitebsk-Velizh. Each of the parties constructed its own section of the network up to the border. The connection's transfer rate is 2.5 Gbit/s with the possibility for expansion to 10Gbit/s. The line was put into commercial operation in 2008.[3]

During the conference International Telecommunications Union Telecom World 2011, Russia and Belarus signed agreement on business development and modernization of communication networks. According to the document, the parties are going to start working together over the commercial operation and provision of communication channels Nx10Gb / s in Moscow – Frankfurt direction, passing through the territory of Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany with participation of foreign partners. The parties also intend to expand the cross-border capacity and transitions of their own lines of up to 1 Tbit/ sec in the direction. In accordance with the terms of the agreement, the companies plan to develop a joint business in 2012 - 2015 to provide telecommunications services, including internet access, to meet the needs of Beltelecom users, as well as rental services of international channels of communication, for the organization of the transit channels from Russia to Europe for Rostelecom users.[4]

Cellular communications[edit]

Belarus has 4 GSM operators (TM velcom, MTS, life and Diallog), the NMT-450 and CDMA-2000 operator. Mobile operators are experiencing rapid growth. On December 2013 Belarusian operator beCloud, in cooperation with mobile operator MTS Belarus, completed LTE tests in the city of Minsk. The project started on 1 September and ended on 30 November, Four LTE Advanced base stations were deployed, using Huawei equipment. Several operators were able to test the LTE network using the same hardware platform on the base station equipment. The tests yielded speeds of 240 Mbit/s speed using LTE Advanced, and 150 Mbit/s over LTE. BeCloud received its LTE licence and bands earlier that year.[5]

Media[edit]

"Mass Media in Belarus" exhibition. "Mass Media for Diaspora" booth. 5 May 2005

Television[edit]

  • Television broadcast stations: 93 of which 59 are privately owned.[6]

Belarus is switching from an analog to digital broadcast television. The process is due to finish by 2015.[6]

Television channels with news content and nationwide coverage are all either state owned or state controlled (i.e. state bodies own more than 50 percent of the shares). There is not a single privately owned TV channel with nationwide coverage. Licenses for TV and radio broadcasters are issued by the Republican Commission on Television and Radio Broadcasting, the chair of which is the minister of information. Other regulatory functions are undertaken by the information ministry directly. The only producer of broadcast news is the Belarusian Television and Radio Company (BT). Regional channels produce 25-40 percent of their own programming. They do not produce their own news or current affairs programs, relying instead on news from national channels.

Radio[edit]

  • Radio broadcast stations: 169 with 25 privately owned, including 30 FM stations.[6]
  • Radios: 3.02 million (1997).[dated info]

Newspapers and magazines[edit]

  • Newspapers: 712.[6]
  • Magazines: 793.[6]
  • News agencies: 9 national, of which 7 are private.[6]

Internet[edit]

  • Country code: .by

The state telecom monopoly, Beltelecom, holds the exclusive interconnection with Internet providers outside of Belarus. Beltelecom owns all the backbone channels that linked to the Lattelecom, TEO LT, Tata Communications (former Teleglobe), Synterra, Rostelecom, Transtelekom and MTS ISP's. Beltelecom is the only operator licensed to provide commercial VoIP services in Belarus.[7]

Until 2005-2006 broadband access (mostly using ADSL) was available only in a few major cities in Belarus. In Minsk there were a dozen privately owned ISP's and in some larger cities Beltelecom's broadband was available. Outside these cities the only options for Internet access were dial-up from Beltelecom or GPRS/cdma2000 from mobile operators. In 2006 Beltelecom introduced a new trademark, Byfly, for its ADSL access. As of 2008 Byfly was available in all administrative centres of Belarus. Other ISPs are expanding their broadband networks beyond Minsk as well.

Internet use:

  • According to a 2006 survey of 1,500 adults by Satio, a third of Belarusians use the Internet—38% of the urban population and 16% of the rural population.[8]
  • A 2006 study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development indicates 56.5% of Belarus' population were internet-users.[9]
  • The International Telecommunications Union showed Internet penetration (Internet users per 100 population) in 2009 at 27% for Belarus, 42% for Serbia, 37% for Romania, 29% for Russia, and 17% for Ukraine.[10]
  • According to Internet World Stats, Internet penetration in June 2010 was 47.5%.[11] For comparison, Internet penetration in the Ukraine was 33.7%, in Romania 35.5%, Russia 42.8%, and Serbia 55.9%.

The most active Internet users in Belarus belong to the 17–22 age group (38 percent), followed by users in the 23–29 age group. Internet access in Belarus is predominantly urban, with 60 percent of users living in the capital Minsk. The profile of the average Internet user is male, university educated, living in the capital, and working in a state enterprise. The Ministry for Statistics and Analysis estimates that one in four families in Belarus owns a computer at home. The popularity of Internet cafés has fallen in recent years, as most users prefer to access the Internet from home or work. Russian is the most widely used language by Belarusians on the Internet, followed by Belarusian, English, and Polish.[7]

In mid-2009 there were more than 22,300 Belarusian Web sites, of which roughly 13,500 domain names were registered with the top-level domain name ".by".[7]

In June 2011 E-Belarus.org listed:[12]

  • 2 ISPs in the Brest region, 4 in the Gomel region, 1 in the Grodno region, 26 in the Minsk region, 1 in the Mogilev region, and 1 in the Vitebsk region
  • 4 ADSL providers
  • 3 technology parks
  • 2 educational networks
  • more than 30 Internet cafes and Wi-Fi Hotspots

Limited free expression[edit]

Many western human rights groups state that civil rights and free expression are severely limited in Belarus, though there are some individuals and groups that refuse to be controlled and some journalists have disappeared.[13]

Because the Belarus government allegedly limits free expression, several opposition media outlets are broadcast from nearby countries to help provide Belorussians an alternative points of view. This includes the Polish sate-owned Belsat TV station and European Radio for Belarus (Eŭrapéjskaje Rádyjo dla Biełarúsi)[14]

Reporters Without Borders ranked Belarus 157th out of 178 countries in its 2014 Press Freedom Index.[15] By comparison, the same index ranked neighbor Ukraine, 126th and Russia, 148th.

In the 2011 Freedom House Freedom of the Press report, Belarus scored 92 on a scale from 10 (most free) to 99 (least free), because the government allegedly systematically curtails press freedom. This score placed Belarus 9th from the bottom of the 196 countries included in the report and earned the country a "Not Free" status.[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Развитие связи в Беларуси", BELTA 6 May 2011
  2. ^ Beltelecom, Rostelecom complete cross-border fibre tie-up
  3. ^ Synterra and Beltelecom to Build up Transborder Fiber-optical Connection between Russia and Belarus
  4. ^ Beltelecom and Rostelecom Signed Agreement on Modernization of Communication Networks
  5. ^ "beCloud completes LTE tests in Minsk". Telecompaper. Retrieved 27 December 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Mass media in Belarus", Belarus.by, the Official Website of the Republic of Belarun, May 2014
  7. ^ a b c "ONI Country Profile: Belarus", OpenNet Initiative, 18 November 2010
  8. ^ Минский Курьер: №1096 Пятница 22 Декабря 2006г[dead link]
  9. ^ "Information Economy Report 2007-2008", United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD.org), 6 February 2008, ISBN 978-92-1-112724-9
  10. ^ "Estimated Internet users 2000 to 2009", spreadsheet, International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
  11. ^ "Internet Usage in Europe", Internet World Stats, 30 June 2010
  12. ^ "ITC in Belarus", E-Belarus.org. Retrieved 13 June 2011
  13. ^ "Attacks on the Press in 2003 – Belarus", Committee to Protect Journalists, February 2004, available at UNHCR.org
  14. ^ "Dissent hits Belarus via Warsaw", Gordon Fairclough, Wall Street Journal, 29 January 2011
  15. ^ http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php
  16. ^ "Country report: Belarus", Freedom of the Press 2011, Freedom House, 21 April 2011

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.

External links[edit]

Major telecommunications operators in Belarus (in Belarusian):