Starting from 1 January 2025, telecommunications operators (providers) in Uzbekistan will be able to directly access international internet channels. This is stipulated in a presidential decree dated 3 June on accelerating market reforms and harmonizing national legislation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements.

As an experiment, providers will be able to directly connect to international internet networks for commercial purposes while ensuring compliance with requirements of intelligence-gathering, information and cyber security systems, the document states.

Ministry of Digital Technologies has been tasked to develop guidelines for connection of providers to international channels by 1 October, as well as gradual provision of services to other operators in establishing international internet channels, ensuring full information and national security.

Monopoly on external internet channel

Currently, most internet service providers in Uzbekistan can only access the internet through Uzbektelecom’s international packet switching center. In the Innovative Development Strategy for 2019−2021, adopted in 2018, the goal was set to eliminate the monopoly on external internet channel starting from 1 January 2020, however this goal has not been achieved.

In August 2019, Uzbekistan’s entrepreneurs, at a meeting with officials, named the monopoly on the internet channel one of major obstacles hindering the development of startups in the country. The World Bank analysts previously also noted that this monopoly is a barrier preventing introduction of higher internet connection speeds and lower prices, thereby impeding the establishment of the digital economy.