BAKU -- A top Azerbaijani official says the country will launch a communications satellite in 2012, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reports.
Deputy Communications and Information Technology Minister Iltimas Mammadov told RFE/RL on April 11 that a contract with U.S firm Orbital Sciences Corporation will produce a satellite that will be launched into orbit by a French-made rocket.
Mammadov said the satellite would give districts in Azerbaijan that do not have cable and fiber-optic communication lines access to telephone lines, the Internet, and television.
"It will also facilitate contacts with Azerbaijanis living in foreign countries and with embassies. Besides, every Azerbaijani will feel pride that the country has a satellite [orbiting in space]," Mammadov said.
He predicted that the satellite will bring a drop in prices to consumers for communication services and Internet access.
Mammadov estimated the cost of the satellite at approximately $120 million. He said Azerbaijan will use some 15 to 20 percent of the satellite's capacity and sell the remainder to North African and Asian countries. He said such a contract has already been signed with Malaysia.Read more in Azerbaijani here