By Duncan Mackay at the JW Marriott Hotel Absheron in Baku

There will be free internet access across most of Baku during next year's European Games ©Getty ImagesApril 27 - Azerbaijan will provide free internet, not only at the venues but also across the city, when Baku hosts the first European Games here next year, it has been announced.


The announcement was made by Azerbaijani Deputy Minister of Communications and High Technologies Iltimas Mammadov to coincide with the annual Congress of the International Sports Press Association, which opened here today. 

The decision to make wi-fi free not only to the media covering the Games, but also the general public, comes at a time Scottish organisers of this year's Commonwealth Games in Glasgow are facing mounting criticism over controversial plans to charge the press up to £265 ($440/€320) to access the internet. 

Azerbaijan plans to construct new optical and copper telecommunications infrastructure to ensure that Baku is ready to host the European Games, an event expected to attract more than 6,000 athletes from 49 National Olympic Committees competing in 19 sports. 

"The length of the optical link will be 230 kilometres, and copper - about 70 km," said Mammadov. 

"The lines will be laid directly in the direction of places where competitions will take place.

"The data transfer speed is 1-10 Gb/s."

The National Gymnastics Arena will be among the venues in Baku offering free internet access during the 2015 European Games ©Baku 2015The National Gymnastics Arena will be among the venues in Baku offering free internet access during the 2015 European Games ©Baku 2015

The work, which is due to be completed by next February, will also see services upgraded for broadcasters covering the event. 

"In addition, we plan to take measures for quality broadcasting," said Mammadov. 

"To ensure the quality of the video stream, international channel of communication and a separate fibre-optic network will be launched.

"Resources of satellite 'Azerspace-1' will be used as well."

Upgrading the country's mobile communications is also being made a priority, claimed Mammadov. 

"Work on the creation of the mobile communication infrastructure at the Olympic Stadium in Baku is entrusted to company Azercell Telecom," he said.

"It should also ensure that other operators - Bakcell and Azerfon are also connected to the infrastructure.

"This company was also charged with ensuring the quality of mobile communications."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]sidethegames.biz


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