Experts believe that the decision to block NGN numbers and messengers will lead to decline of the country’s telecommunications market.  Meanwhile, the tax committee claims that use of NGN numbers and Internet messengers has led to decrease in tax revenues.

“The decision to block NGN numbers and Internet messengers contradicts the national sustainable development strategy,” Asomuddin Atoyev, an expert on information communication technologies for development, told Asia-Plus in an interview.  

“The national development strategy for the period to 2030, in particular, notes that rapid development of mobile communication and information technologies, which provides opportunities for their use, both in the real sector of economy and in public administration for e-government development is one of the key capabilities that might contribute to the achievement of strategic objectives.  Moreover, the blockage of one technologies can be got round by other technologies (VPN – Virtual Private Network, which extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network),” Atoyev noted.

Besides, the decision to block NGN numbers and messengers hampers the country’s telecommunications market, the expert said.     

“Metcalfe's law works in telecommunications and it states that the value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of connected users of the system (n2),” Atoyev said, noting that renouncement of new opportunities of communication not only hampers the market potentials but also leads to monopoly of one producer of telecommunications equipment that “in turn will affect security of the national network.”  

Meanwhile, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reports that a letter by Nusratullo Davlatzoda, the head of the Tax Committee, to President Emomali Rahmon, in particular, notes that use of NGN numbers and Internet messengers has led to decrease in tax revenues. 

Recall, Tajik communications service agency has demanded that mobile phone operators switch off the next generation network (NGN).  

NGN in Tajikistan numbers about one million subscribers (many of them are labor migrants working abroad, primarily in the Russian Federation). The following mobile phone companies in Tajikistan have NGN numbers: Babilon-T; Tcell (Chi Gap); Beeline (Salom); Eastera; and Intercom.

On November 27, the Communications Service under the Government of Tajikistan reportedly ordered all mobile phone companies and Internet service providers operating in Tajikistan to switch off NGN in international traffic.  The communications service agency justified its decision by saying that it is done for security of the country.

Access to communications phone services with foreign IP-addresses has reportedly been blocked. 

The Tajik authorities last year established the Unified Electronic Communications Switching Center and required that all Internet and mobile communications traffic be run through the single state-owned telecoms provider Tajiktelecom.  The Center centralizes all telephone and Internet communications with the aim of facilitating surveillance on the grounds of combatting terrorism and extremism.  It allows the government to have complete control over domestic communications without any safeguards.

The idea of creating a government-administered information gateway has been circulating since 2005.  The stated aim of the recurring initiative has been to prevent “illegal” communications that could undermine national security.