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Imagine your life without the internet. If you are one of the victims of data overload, suffering from overexposure to tweets, newsfeeds, updates, likes and too many emails (especially those at awkward hours), chances are that living without your Blackberry for a week or two may seem like true bliss. But would anyone really want to go back to the pre-Google era?
While businesses and individuals in developed countries are turning their attention to managing the abundance of information, billions of people in the developing world remain disconnected from the world wide web. The lack of access to reliable internet services is hindering modern education and business growth and, as a result, delaying the creation of jobs and prosperity.
In Turkey, the discrepancy in internet availability between regions is particularly striking. On average, Turkey’s total broadband penetration, both fixed and mobile, is less than 15 per cent of the country’s population, compared with 40 per cent in western Europe. Around 40 per cent of Turkish households have broadband, which is 20 per cent less than the EU average. The latest data show that, while in Istanbul the absolute majority of households have access to broadband, the penetration of fixed broadband internet services in the eastern regions is less than 20 per cent.
With its fast-growing economy and young population, Turkey needs significant investment to catch up with western Europe in terms of availability of broadband internet services.
The EBRD is helping to address this need by lending €100 million to Türk Telekomünikasyon AS, the leading telecommunications group in Turkey, for its national broadband expansion plan.
"For any telecom operator in the EBRD region today, deploying fixed broadband infrastructure countrywide represents an ambitious challenge, with fast-growing demand for data, large investment costs required upfront and a very long payback period, " says Laure Blanchard-Brunac, Principal Banker in the EBRD’s Information & Communications Technologies team, the Operation Leader for the project.
“Türk Telekomünikasyon AS is the only operator in Turkey with the capacity to undertake such a country-wide broadband development project and this factor was essential in the EBRD’s decision to provide this financing to the company,” adds Sevki Acuner, the EBRD’s Deputy Director for Turkey.
The EBRD loan will support Türk Telekomünikasyon AS in extending broadband infrastructure to all the provinces of Turkey, including the most remote ones, where such services are limited or currently do not exist, by 2016. The proceeds of the loan will be used to finance capital expenditures for fixed broadband network expansion in the regions of Adana, Diyarbakir, Erzurum, Kayseri, Samsun and Trabzon.
“It is an exciting project that will help shape the future of the country and we are delighted to be part of it,” says Alain Pilloux, EBRD’s Managing Director for Industry, Commerce & Agribusiness. “Supporting economies through innovation and technology is one of the EBRD’s priorities and this latest project will play an important role in helping Turkey fulfil its growth potential.”
It is estimated that by 2016, fixed broadband subscribers in Turkey will reach 60 per cent of the country’s households, a level that is similar to the current average in the European Union.
By Ina Coretchi
Last updated 13 July 2012
Read more about how eastern and western Turkey differ in access to the internet and demographics.