Soldiers from Armenia who serve in the Karabakh Defence Army use Karabakh Telecom – the only cellular operator in the unrecognized republic. Armenian mobile operators, as foreign ones, operate in roaming, which in addition to high costs, imposes charges for both incoming and outgoing calls. As a result, soldiers have no alternative to Karabakh telecom.
According to relatives of soldiers who serve in Karabakh, Karabakh Telecom receives at least 3,000 AMD (more than $6) per month from each soldier. “Every ten days you need to top up by 1000 AMD plus commission, regardless of whether the previous amount is used. This means that every ten days, even if 900 AMD remains on the account, you need to top up again. This is a type of planned economy: the company receives at least 3000 AMD per month from each soldier”.
Karabakh Telecom’s conditions stipulate that a service period of ten days is added if 1000 AMD is paid to top up. If 500 AMD is paid to top up, the service period goes down to four days. If 2000 AMD is topped up, the period goes up to 22 days. Regardless of the amount paid, if the account is not topped up within the indicated time period, service is stopped. Only incoming calls can be received for a few days after this period, and then the number will be completely blocked.
“No one would agree to 1000 AMD for 10 days. Therefore, the company invented a new system in which if your service period is about to expire and you still have money on your account, you can buy yourself more time. That costs 50 AMD per day.”
Currently people count the days to transfer money on time. If a number is blocked, the individual must go into the city and pay 1200 AMD to buy a new card. Of course, soldiers cannot do that every day. Considering the number of staff at Karabakh Telecom, the company makes good money off the soldiers.
We wanted to find out if the company has any tariff plans without deadline periods. A representative of Karabakh Telecom confirmed that they do not.