In 2007, the new president of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov resolved to open up the country to new technologies, thereby allowing access to the outside world. This report gauges these new Internet policies and the nature of everyday digital access in Turkmenistan’s short and recent digital history. Turkmenistan presents a complex picture. The government runs a few internet cafes and recently 3G spectrum has been made available, holding out the promise of widespread and continuous web connectivity. Yet this is negated by the Internet’s limited reach and spread, strict censorship laws, bureaucratic obstacles, prohibitive pricing and the absence of consumer-friendly telecom services. The state’s ambivalent policies notwithstanding, there are a few instances of the vitality of chat rooms and the efforts of Turkmens in optimizing the full potential of the Internet. This complex picture of rigorous control and small pockets of web engagement are the focus of this report on Turkmenistan in the digital age.
Language of contribution: English