Communications in Belarus

Communications in Belarus

Communications in Belarus are dominated by the state which owns most of the corporations and infrastructure.

Telephone system

the Ministry of Telecommunications controls all telecommunications through its carrier Unitary enterprise Beltelecom which is a monopoly. The phone calling code for Belarus is +375.

Domestic

Belarus has 3 (Velcom,MTS and BeST) GSM operators, the NMT-450 and CDMA-2000 operators. Mobile operators are experiencing rapid growth. Minsk has a digital metropolitan network; waiting lists for telephones are long; fixed line penetration is improving although rural areas continue to be underserved; intercity - Belarus has developed fiber-optic backbone system presently serving at least 13 major cities (1998); Belarus's fiber optics form synchronous digital hierarchy rings through other countries' systems; an inadequate analog system remains operational.

International

Belarus is a member of the Trans-European Line (TEL), Trans-Asia-Europe Fiber-Optic Line (TAE) and has access to the Trans-Siberia Line (TSL); three fiber-optic segments provide connectivity to Latvia, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine; worldwide service is available to Belarus through this infrastructure; additional analog lines to Russia; Intelsat, Eutelsat, and Intersputnik earth stations

Media

Perestroika

During the time of perestroika and after the collapse of the Soviet Union media expression flourished, with a wide variety of newspapers that presented a wide variety of points of view.

Lukashenko period

After 10 years of Lukashenko's presidency, most of the Belarusian media outlets (newspapers, radio, television) are owned by the state. The state-controlled media present pro-government points of view and interpretation of events as in the Soviet period. There are a number of privately owned media outlets, mostly small independent newspapers. They operate under a permanent threat of being closed down for violating various government regulations, such as mis-stating their corporate name on their publication or operating out of an office not registered with the government (in fact, this is the situation for all private enterprises in Belarus).

Television

Television channels with news content and nationwide coverage are all either state-owned or state controlled (i.e. state bodies own more than 50 percent of the shares). There is no privately owned TV channel with nationwide coverage. Licences for TV and radio broadcasters are issued by the Republican Commission on Television and Radio Broadcasting, the chair of which is the minister of information; other regulatory functions are undertaken by the information ministry directly. The only producer of broadcast news is the Belarussian Television and Radio Company (BT). Regional channels produce 25-40 percent of their own programming; they do not produce their own news or current affairs programmes, relying instead on news from national channels. Some 400,000 homes in Belarus have satellite dishes.

Radio

According to the Ministry of Information, there are some 151 radio channels in Belarus. 30 broadcast on FM frequencies.

Newspapers

There are two types of newspaper, divided into sharply contrasting camps, namely state-owned and privately-owned. State-owned newspapers make up some 80-85 percent of newspapers in circulation. The state-owned newspapers have large circulations running into hundreds of thousands.

Since 1999, it became obligatory to register with thestate press distributor.

The most important of these is the daily Sovetskaya Belarussia – Belarus segodnya (Soviet Belarus – Belarus Today), published by the presidential administration, with a circulation of about 500,000. Other significant state-owned newspapers are the daily Respublika (The Republic), published by the Cabinet of Ministers, and the weeklies Sem’ Dnei (Seven Days) and Narodnaya Gazeta (The People’s Paper).

Internet

According to a 2006 survey of 1,500 adults by Satio, a third of Belarusians use the Internet -- 38% of the urban population and 16% of the rural population. [ [http://www.mk.by/archiv/22.12.2006/rub2.php#2 Минский Курьер : №1096 Пятница 22 Декабря 2006г ] ] According to other data Internet penetration in Belarus is 35.1 % [ [http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats4.htm#europe Europe Internet Usage Stats and Population Statistics ] ] - these are the best results among all CIS countries, second closest being Russia with 16.5%. Yet another study held by UN indicates 56.5% of population are internet-users [http://www.unctad.org/en/docs/sdteecb20071_en.pdf]

Official propaganda

Perhaps the most obvious examples of Belarusian propaganda are imaginary terrorist stories, whereby alleged terrorists are said to be plotting to overthrow President Alexander Lukashenko.Fact|date=March 2008

The state controlled media in Belarus deny that there is any bias or censoring of freedom of expression in Belarus. They point to the Belarusian people's overwhelming re-election of Lukashenko on September 9, 2001 claiming that this shows that the anti-democracy sentiment in Belarus is genuine and that the Belarusian people and media do have the right to free speech - they simply do not want to criticize their government because they believe it to be running the country well. Once outside Belarus and free of fear of reprisal, most Belarusians are vocal in their discontent with the Soviet-style system that prevents free enterprise and democracy from taking root in Belarus as it has in neighboring post-Soviet countries. They also point to the fact that the standard of living of Belarus is low compared to the rest of Europe.

Free expression limited

Many western human rights groups state that the civil rights of free expression are severely limited in Belarus, though there are some individuals and groups that refuse to be controlled and some of the journalists have disappeared. What makes the situation complex, however, is that the relatively free Russian media is allowed to transmit television programming, sell newspapers and conduct journalistic activities in Belarus (though some Russian journalists have been expelled by the Belarusian government) thus giving some members of the public, typically those in large cities with many Russian residents, access to an alternative point of view in the Russian language (nearly all Belarusians understand and most of them speak Russian).

In 2004, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Belarus 144th out of 167 countries. For comparison, in the same index Ukraine was 138th and Russia was 140th, while the closest of the other European countries were Serbia at 77 and Romania at 70.

Radio broadcast stations:AM 28, FM 37, shortwave 11 (1998)

Radios:3.02 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:47 (plus 27 repeaters) (1995)

Country code: BY

Broadband Internet access

Belarus has state monopoly Beltelecom, which holds the exclusive rights for interconnection with internet providers outside of Belarus. Beltelecom owns all backbone channels which are linked to TeleGlobe, SprintLink and Peterstar ISP's.

Until 2005-2006 broadband access (mostly using ADSL) was available only in a few major cities in Belarus. In Minsk there were a dozen of privately-owned ISP's and in some other big cities Beltelecom's broadband was available. Outside this area the only options for Internet access were dial-up from Beltelecom or GPRS/cdma2000 from mobile operators. In 2006 Beltelecom introduced a new trademark "Byfly" for its ADSL access. As of 2008 Byfly is available in all raicenter of Belarus. Other ISP's started expanding their network outside of Minsk too.

References

*factbook

External links

* [http://www.mininform.gov.by/ The Ministry of Information of the Republic of Belarus]
* [http://www.mpt.gov.by/ The Ministry of Communications and Informatization of the Republic of Belarus]
* [http://www.e-belarus.org/links/media.html Media in Belarus]

Major telecommunications operators in Belarus:
* [http://www.beltelecom.by/ Beltelecom]
* [http://www.mts.by/ MTS (GSM)]
* [http://www.velcom.by/ Velcom (GSM)]
* [http://www.best.by/ BeST (GSM)]
* [http://www.diallog.by/ Diallog (CDMA)]


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