Technological platforms utilized for internet services are still considered as a growing technology in Georgia. On the one hand, our country is one of the regional leaders in terms of development of e-governance. However, on the other hand, Georgia has not overcome so called digital gap – uneven development of internet accessibility between cities and regions. It is noteworthy that according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies, internet is accessible for 45% of the population of Georgia.
Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (IDFI) regularly analyses the existing information in this field. This time institute addressed Georgian National Communication Commission for the request of corresponding data as of 2013. IDFI requested data on wired, wireless and mobile internet users according to regions, cities, technologies, authorized entities, physical and corporate users. Below we are presenting main findings after processing the received information.
First of all, tendencies regarding users of wired internet are worth mentioning. The received information revealed that since 2010 Georgia has made progress in this direction: while in 2010 there were 252 131 subscribers who browsed internet through wired internet, as of October, 2013 the number of these subscriptions equaled 434 969. Despite growing tendency, it is evident from the graph below that during the previous two years (2012-2013) market of wired internet has not undergone fundamental changes.
Internet availability according to regions is even more interesting. The provided figures show that in terms of wired internet users Tbilisi (with 273 396 subscriptions) is followed by Imereti holding the second position with 42 198 subscriptions. Unfortunately, these data illustrate uneven accessibility of wired internet in Georgia, especially in regions. Out of these regions, wired internet is least accessible in Racha-Lechkhumi and Kvemo Svaneti, Guria and Mtskheta-Mtianeti – overall, by October, 2013 in total 4 928 wired internet subscriptions were recorded in these three regions.
Furthermore, according to the data obtained from the Commission, the capital is followed by the following cities in terms ofthe number of wireless internet subscriptions: Kutaisi, Rustavi and Batumi.
While analyzing the existing situation on the internet market, it is of vital importance to display which companies operate in Georgia and how users are distributed among them. It is obvious from the data that Silknet, one of the internet service providers, is leading the wired internet market with more than 212 thousand subscriptions. This company is followed by Caucasus Online with the possession of 139 936 subscriptions. The rest 24 companies provide only 82 392 subscribers with wired internet.
In order to display more comprehensive picture of internet service providers, it is worth showing the amount of subscriptions according to regions. In case of Tbilisi, the given data provided by GNCC shows that up to twenty companies are functioning in the capital. Out of them two providers – Caucasus and Silknet – provide 41% and 40%, respectively, of the subscribers with internet. The shares of the rest companies are as follows: Akhteli (15 thousand subscriptions) and Akhali Kselebi (up to 13 thousand subscriptions). Interestingly, other 15 companies provide only 1% of wired internet subscribers in Tbilisi.
According to the amount of wired internet subscriptions Imereti region can be distinguished/ from the capital of the country. Major internet providers in these regions are Sikneti (51%) and Akhali Kselebi (47%). With regard to the scope of wired internet subscriptions, Kvemo Kartli, where Central Georgian Communications Co. is a main provider for 67% of subscribers, holds the third position. In comparison to this, figures of Silknet and Caucasus Online seem modest: 19% (6 538 subscriptions) and 11% (3 668 subscriptions), respectively.
Majority of wired internet subscribers (27 034 subscriptions) in the Autonomic Republic of Adjara are provided by Silknet. The similar happens in Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti, where Silknet presents the main provider of wired internet with 77% (11 693) of subscriptions. Three other companies operating in the internet market of this region are: Akhali Kselebi (16%), Caucasus Online (11%) and Iveria Kseli (7%). In terms of the extent of availability of wired internet, with 14 653 subscriptions, Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti is followed by Shida Kartli, where Silkneti tends to be the main provider (93%) of this kind of internet. The similar tendency is observed in other regions as well.
It should also be noted what kinds of technologies are developed for the purposes of internet accessibility. According to GNNC data, in case of wired internet, consumers of fiber technology (51 – 221 170) the numberof consumers of fiber technology (51 – 221 170) slightly exceed the number of DSL technology subscriptions (49 – 212 968).
Concerning wireless internet service, it is regarded as the most dynamically developing technology in Georgia. Based on the 2012 annual report of GNCC, wireless internet technology is mainly developing in the regions, where accessibility to wired internet is relatively low. Data as of October, 2013 demonstrate that the capital, inhabiting majority of subscribers of wired internet, holds the sixth position in terms of the scope of wireless subscriptions. In this respect, Kvemo Kartli and Imereti regions can be highlighted. Generally, wireless internet is available for 87 882 subscribers throughout the country.
Consumption of wireless internet in terms of technologies is worth discussing. The most widespread technologies are CDMA (out of which HSPA/EVDO possesses 30% of subscriptions – 25 958, EVDO – 19% (16 576) and directly CDMA 9% (7 766) and WiFi (33% - 28 942). They are followed by WiMAX technology with 9% (8 140 subscriptions).
In order to achieve higher levels of internet connectivity in the regions, development of mobile internet can be one of the alternative ways. It should be considered that according to the 2012 annual report of GNCC, by the end of 2012, the amount of mobile users reached 4,7 million, while density of mobile subscriptions was 104,5%. In this regard, as of October, 2013, the number of mobile internet subscriptions amounted to 1 209 414. Out of them, 51% (619 718) of subscribers obtain the service from Geocell. Magticom provides 30% of mobile subscribers with mobile internet.
On the basis of the statistical data displayed above, some conclusions can be made:
Georgia: Civil Society Parallel Assessment of Compliance with Sustainable Development Goal Indicator 22.214.171.124.2017