By Arife Yildiz Unal
ANKARA (AA) - Private telecommunications companies and Internet service providers invested 7.4 billion Turkish liras (some $2.45 billion) in infrastructure including research and development in 2016, Turkey's communications minister said Tuesday.
"Our goal is to further increase this amount," Ahmet Arslan said in releasing the latest quarterly market data report for the electronic communications sector in the country.
The minister said that the revenues of operators stood at 12.2 billion liras (around $4.04 billion) in the last quarter of 2016, while the annual total was 45.4 billion liras (approx. $15.03 billion).
"Companies' revenues increased by 14.7 percent year-on-year [in 2016]. The most important point though is the great interest of companies in R&D and maintenance investments.
"As the government, we have been introducing regulations that pave the way for investors in IT sector. The results can be seen in the increase in investments," he said.
Arslan noted that the number of mobile subscribers rose to 75.1 million in 2016, from 68.8 million in the previous year, while the number of broadband internet subscribers hit 62.2 million.
Turkey ranked first among the European countries with an average monthly mobile usage of 426 minutes, he added.
Recalling the spread of 4.5G services, Arslan said the number of users surged by 17 percent to 19.2 million in the last quarter of 2016, from 16.4 million in the previous quarter of the year.
The increase in speed had a positive effect on internet usage, Arslan added.
"Monthly mobile internet usage per person rose to 2.2 gigabytes in the last quarter of 2016 from 1.3 gigabytes over the same period the previous year.
"However, more importantly, the mobile internet usage of 4.5G subscribers reached 5.4 gigabytes. Data usage will further increase with the spread of 4.5G, and the launch of 5G," he added.
Arslan also said that the length of fiber optic network cables increased by 8.5 percent to 291,000 kilometres by the end of last year, while the number of fiber subscribers rose by 15.2 percent to 1.93 million.
"We believe that Turkey will be one of the first countries which will move to 5G. Our goal is to accomplish this through the use of locally produced materials," he added.