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EBRD Financing To Expand Broadband Internet Services In Azerbaijan

The EBRD is supporting wider penetration of internet services in Azerbaijan with a $4 million equity investment in Datacell JSC, a wireless broadband service that already serves the capital, Baku, and which now aims to reach out to the country's regions.

Established in 2005, Datacell operates under the Elcell brand name. The company's services are based on the latest wireless data communication technology HC-SDMA iBurst, providing high speed reliable wireless fixed and mobile internet access at competitive prices. In addition to broadband, Datacell also offers a range of other high quality internet-based services for banking, retail, transport and other industries.

"Although the number of internet users and subscribers in Azerbaijan has more than quadrupled since 2002, the penetration of internet services remains at a low 14 per cent. Up to 70 per cent of subscribers use dial-up to access internet. While there are approximately 30 providers of internet services in Baku, outside the capital there is virtually no competition," EBRD says.

The EBRD's investment in Datacell's newly issued shares will enable the company to expand its services to new individual and business customers in and outside the capital. By 2011 the company is planning to provide high speed internet services in entire Absheron peninsula, which includes Baku and its suburbs, as well as in twelve other major towns of the country.

As part of the investment the EBRD will appoint a Director to Datacell's Board.

"This is the EBRD's first telecommunications investment in Azerbaijan and we are pleased to join efforts with

Datacell in assisting the company to expand internet services in the regions of Azerbaijan. The project will boost the competition in the sector and will provide Azerbaijanis with better access to a range of information services", said Michelle Senecal De Fonseca, EBRD Director for Telecommunications.

"Datacell team wishes to thank the EBRD for this vote of confidence in its people and its services. This landmark investment of the EBRD in the Azerbaijan telecommunications sector will enable Datacell to continue to grow its client base add expand the coverage of our world class and very popular elcell mobile broadband internet service", said Ramiz Sharifov, Chief Executive Officer of Datacell.

Since the beginning of its operations in Azerbaijan, the EBRD has committed over $1 billion across more than 90 projects in various sectors of the country's economy.

Source: EBRD

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