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Three new phone stations will be installed in Kashatagh and Nor Shahumyan

A “Hetq” interview with Ralph Yirikyan, General Manager of “Karabakh Telecom”

- In Kashatagh a dozen of villages don't have landline phone services. In meetings with the village residents this is always mentioned as one of the most serious problems there. In one village in Kashatagh a woman told us that she found out about the death of her mother a month late. What work is “Karabakh Telecom” doing in this region, and what is being done to provide phone services to those villages?

During this year we will install 11 new stations in Karabakh. One station will be located in the northern part of Kashatagh and two more in the southbound gorges; these will provide services for a large number of villages. Currently we are in the process of installing a station in Berdadzor, which will also provide neighboring villages with phone services. We are working slowly, first equipping the places where the population is relatively dense and then starting to spread out from there. In Karvachar we installed a station 3 years ago, so there are services there and in several surrounding villages. Today we are also working in Nor Shahumyan and are currently installing a station near Dadivank that will be operational shortly. In Kashatagh the village Sus has a station and all the villages of the nearby valley are also provided with services. Our biggest achievement is that we do not have specialists from outside; Karabakhtsis have become these specialists and we do not intend to bring anyone from outside to work here.

-Is your organization profitable in Karabakh?

“Karabakh Telecom” is not like an Armenian organization; in some places we are working with profit, and in other places at a loss, but with that profit we are purchasing and installing new equipment. Today we have eight hundred employees; we participate in many charity programs and have an agreement with the Ministry of Social Security. We provide grants for families with many children and for children that are without parents; we also provide assistance to the kindergarten for children with special needs. We have constructed playgrounds in all regional centers: five of them in Stepanakert. This year we presented Hadrut with an Ambulance vehicle and Berdzor with a garbage truck. In other words “Karabakh Telecom” tries to give back to the community that supports it.

- How many customers does “Karabakh Telecom” have?

“Karabakh Telecom” has 26-27 thousand cellular customers and 20 thousand landline customers and we are constantly expanding. We need to extend the Gandzasar station since it already doesn't meet current demand, we are also strengthening the network and this is a continuous job.

- Don't you consider Kashatagh to be highly important and that your organization has to make work there a priority?

For us there is no difference, Karabakh is Karabakh, it's a part of our homeland and I personally consider myself a Karabakhtsi. An Armenian is an Armenian wherever he is, so there is no difference; we do what we do for everyone. All the regions are important and I consider it as important as anyone that these regions need to develop, become stronger, repopulate more quickly and that these regions remain in our sight, as they have throughout our work. For example, Kashatagh had some Internet access but this year we installed five new pieces of equipment and reliable Internet service will be available. They are being installed already and will be placed in such a way that the service can reach deep into the villages as well. Gradually we are working and I'm realizing that Kashatagh and Nor Shahumyan need to be paid special attention. Besides phone service we are providing those communities with other assistance. The topography there is complex so the waves reflecting in the mountains play a large role, thus when we install stations, we are sometimes forced to move them elsewhere.

- And do the Azeris not try to distort communication services in Karabakh?

No, our mobile communication is powerful and our borders protected.

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