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Turkmenistan allows Internet access for private citizens

06 июня 2008

Turkmenistan has begun allowing private citizens to connect to the Internet in the latest sign the reclusive Central Asian nation is opening up to the world.

The country's only Internet provider, Turkmentelekom, said Thursday that it has been connecting up to 20 homes daily since the start of the week, mainly in the capital Ashgabat. It said it has a waiting list of 2,000 people.

"As of this week we have begun connecting customers, regardless of their professional status," a Turkmentelekom statement said.

Since becoming president, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov has reversed some of the most draconian restrictions imposed by his eccentric predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov, who died in 2006.

Last year, Berdymukhamedov allowed the country's first Internet cafe. Until then, Internet use had been restricted solely to government employees, diplomatic posts and offices of major international companies.

But the average monthly salary in
Turkmenistan is $200, so it was unclear how many people will be able to afford home connections. Nor is it known whether the government will block certain Web sites.

Surfing the net will cost around $1 an hour, on top of a monthly charge of $8. Initial hookup costs are $42. Most of the few Internet cafes that have opened in the past year charge up to $2 an hour and are closely monitored.

Turkmentelekom also is offering exceptionally slow dial-up connection speeds, which may frustrate Web surfers.

Источник: Total Telecom

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