ArmenTel Monopoly Halts Arminco Transmission

YEREVAN (Golos Armenii–Respublica Armenia)–Over two thousand customers of Armenia’s main internet provider Arminco–virtually all embassies and international organizations–were deprived of internet access for two days this week. Arminco says this is already the third such interruption during the past year.

"There are no guarantees that such cases will never repeat in the future," said Director General of Arminco Andranik Alexanian.

He said that the reasons are purely technical–and outside of his company’s control. Being an internet service provider–Arminco leases communication lines from international communications leader in Armenia–ArmenTel–which has monopolized the industry. Yet–according to Alexanian–ArmenTel’s lease agreement with Arminco does not guarantee uninterrupted service–which means ArmenTel may interrupt provision of the service at any moment–without any negative consequences for itself.

Meanwhile–Arminco has no right to sign a contract with any other organization–because of the 15-year monopoly rights–provided to ArmenTel by the government. Thus–the company is able to dictate conditions of local contracts. The director of Arminco said "we would do better without ArmenTel’s services–and would be providing much cheaper communications then."

Technical Director of Arminco Grigori Saghian said that for consistent operation Arminco needs a high capacity communications channel at internationally accepted prices. Arminco applied to the government–requesting to allow operation via an auxiliary channel–independent of ArmenTel.

However–Minister of Communications Artak Vardanian said that Arminco is an ordinary user–like other organizations or individuals–and permission of a separate communications channel to this company is not possible–because of ArmenTel’s monopoly agreement. Vardanian confirmed that the contracts–signed by ArmenTel with its users–did not specify any guarantees.

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