Information and communication technologies (ICT) are now a key element of modern society, as they are employed in all aspects of life: economic, political, and social.
Uzbekistan is one of the countries where digital technologies are developing rapidly, leading to remarkable results. In the last six years, the number of mobile communication base stations in the country has grown from 20 thousand in 2017 to 54 thousand in 2022, and the length of fiber-optic communication lines has increased from 24.5 thousand kilometers to 170 thousand kilometers. The bandwidth of international Internet channels has grown from 110 Gbps in 2017 to 3200 Gbps in 2022. At the same time, the cost of connecting to the Internet has decreased from USD 91.5 per 1 Mbps in 2017 to USD 3 in 2022, which contributed to broader access of the population to digital services. The number of Internet users has increased from 20 million in 2017 to 31.1 million in 2022.
During the International Partnership Initiatives Week “New Uzbekistan: Development, Innovation and Enlightenment”, the Minister of Digital Technologies of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh. Shermatov noted that in the next two years, measures are envisaged to expand international Internet channels further and modernize the mobile network and 5G coverage of all regional centers of the country.
Adopting the above measures will have several positive effects on the further development of information and communication technologies in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
First, access to knowledge and information will improve. One clear example of this is distance learning, which needs high internet speed.
At the present stage, the distance learning market is growing worldwide, since this education format has several advantages. For example, a UK Open University study found that distance learning uses 90 percent less energy and produces 85 percent less CO2 emissions per student than traditional face-to-face learning.
Thus, coverage with the 5G standard and the expansion of international Internet channels will allow:
– improve the quality of education, because more students who live in rural areas are covered;
– prevent failures in the online learning process and get content (video, audio, platform) in higher quality;
– use the most up-to-date technologies and solutions: online services for the educational process, gamification, virtual library, online proctoring, and online courses.
– to help students get more information that can improve their academic abilities. For example, students can find new ideas for their science projects.
Second, through international Internet channels, security will be ensured against cyberattacks, one of the leading problems in the technology sphere.
The number of cyber incidents is growing. In 2022 it increased by 20.8 percent compared to 2021. Positive Technologies experts found that most often, government agencies (17%), medical institutions (9%), and industry (9%) became victims of attacks.
As a result of the expansion of the international Internet channel and the modernization of the mobile network, information leakage will be reduced, since the connection will remain stable and protected from outside interference.
Third, new opportunities will open up in the healthcare sector. An example is the development of telemedicine, which allows access to medical services online.
According to WHO, the main obstacle to telemedicine’s development remains the low Internet connectivity level in remote areas, especially in the developing world. 5G coverage of all regional centers of the country contributes to providing medical services to a more significant number of the population, particularly patients living in rural areas.
With increasing technological advancement and greater adoption of teleconsultations, the telemedicine market is expected to grow by an average of 19.3 percent during 2023-2031, with a value approaching $377 billion by the end of the forecast period.
Fourth, the level of unemployment among the population will decrease since, with the improvement of communication infrastructures, professions (copywriter, SMM specialist, data analyst, flash animator, Web analyst) that allow working remotely is also developing.
Fifth, due to the increase in the speed of the Internet, the population of the country will rapidly master new technologies, as a result of which life comfort and the level of security will increase. These factors contribute to self-development.
Sixth, the demand for goods and services will increase. With improved market access worldwide, online buying and selling are rising. With the development of the mobile network and the speed of the Internet, the demand will increase.
One of the main conditions for online trading is the speed of the Internet. So, a Google study proved that the slow loading speed of the resource negatively affects the “fidelity” of users. If the load lasts 1-3 seconds longer than usual, the probability that the user will leave the resource increases by 32 percent, and if the delay is longer by 1-5 seconds, it skyrockets to 90 percent.
Consequently, the further development of international Internet channels, the modernization of the mobile network, and the coverage of the regional centers of the country with the 5G standard is of great importance for the state and the population, since the efficiency and quality of work in many industries are increasing. New opportunities for national economic development are being created.
Expert at the Development Strategy Center.