Notes From Hairenik
I just read an entry on The Armenian Observer Blog about the top Internet service providers (ISPs) in Armenia providing the fastest services. Universal Communications (UCom) is number one on the list. I would say that these findings are very true. Armenia Datacom is also up there, which makes sense since both companies employ fiber optic backbones for their Internet services. UCom even offers cable and phone services as well.

Several months ago I wrote that Icon Communications was the way to go for Internet access. That was written long before UCom entered the picture last December. Icon, with its WiMax Internet service, had been charging 8000 dram for a connection with a download speed of 128 kbps and an upload speed of only 64 kbps—now it’s down to 7000 dram apparently.

Yet for the same price--8000 dram--UCom offers a direct fiber optic connection rated at 512 kbps, for both uploads and downloads. The downside is that the connection speed is not stable--in fact it doesn’t always quite reach the claimed download rate based on bandwidth speed tests that I have conducted online. Remarkably, however, upload speeds can be much faster than 512 kbps--sometimes double-- usually in the evening.

We made the switch to Ucom last month since it no longer made any sense to stick with Icon, unfortunately. The company has shown no real signs of competing with Ucom’s rates, which are arguably the best around.
Internet service is definitely getting better as well as cheaper in Armenia, and apparently the price will drop even more from what I heard through the grapevine. Last year the Armenian government managed to break the Internet service monopoly controlled by Arminco/Armentel to allow competition. The Russian firm Vimplecom, which now owns Armentel and offers services under the name Beeline, had to comply. As a result several Internet service providers have been popping up here.

Communications services in Armenia are turning about face to meet ever-increasing demand and compete healthily to offer faster, reasonably priced connections. It’s like a dream come true.

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