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Technology

According to the report published by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) (August 2021), Internet penetration of households in Turkey is 92 percent. It was 90.7 percent in 2020. Internet usage rate was 82.6 percent among individuals aged 16-74 in 2021. This rate was 79 percent in the previous year. Internet usage rate was 87.7 percent for men and 77.5 percent for women (TurkStat August 2021).

The proportion of households that access the Internet with broadband connection was 92 percent in 2020. In terms of broadband connection types, while 61.9 percent of households used fixed broadband connection (ADSL, cable, optic fibre, etc.), 88.5 percent of households used mobile broadband connection to access the Internet. In the previous year, the rate of households with access to broadband Internet connection was 89.9 percent.

58.9 percent of the population used the facilities of the “e-state” online platform in order to get information from official websites.

The rate of citizens who used the Internet to receive public services was 58.9 percent in the 12-month period from April 2020 to March 2021. Of the intended uses of the “e-state” online platform, obtaining information from the websites of public institutions or organizations ranked first with 55.8 percent. 32.3 percent of users said that they filled out online forms and 27.7 percent said that they downloaded/printed out official forms.

The proportion of availability of mobile phone/smart phone in households was 99.3 percent (it was 99.4% in 2020). The availability of notebooks in households is 38.3 percent (in 2019, it was 36.4%) and tablets is 26.3 percent (in 2019, it was 22%). Lastly,16.8 percent of households (16.7% for 2020) have at least one desktop computer. (TurkSat 2021).

As cited in the digital news report of Reuters Institute (2020), the smartphone (72%) remains the most frequently used device to access news. According to the data from more urban areas, social and digital media and important outlets for alternative and critical perspectives are used for sources of news (Reuters Institute 2020).

According to the 2020 Gemius Audience research, most visited applications in Turkey are WhatsApp, Google and Instagram. Google dominates the search market locally, Samsung and Apple are the largest players in the mobile ecosystems market. The most visited websites are google.com, youtube.com ve facebook.com (Gemius Audience 2020).

Telecommunications

Turkey is among the top five countries with the highest increase in fixed Internet penetration in the one-year period of 2019-2020 (June) among the OECD countries (BTK 2021).

Türk Telekom, Superonline (Turkcell), Vodafone Net (United Kingdom) are the top three companies with the largest market share of Internet service providers in terms of subscriber numbers and revenue. There are companies such as Millenicom (Germany), Türknet, D Smart in the sector and they use Türk Telekom infrastructure.

Türk Telekom, Turkey’s largest telecommunication operator, was privatized in 2005. In 2018, 55 percent of its shares were transferred to Levent Configuration Management Inc., which was established in partnership with Akbank, İşbank and Garanti Bank.

In 2013, the ULAK project was launched by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which gave the Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) the responsibility for the administration and establishment of the infrastructure of 4G mobile technologies. According to the ULAK Project by the military defense and communications company ASELSAN and Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, they will establish a technological infrastructure where the use of local technologies will become a condition for all companies to operate in the Turkish 4G mobile market. Later, the 4G integrations turned into the system of 4.5G, which does not exist globally but it was effective for Erdoğan’s order to establish communication technologies with their “national” capabilities. In May 2018, the “national base station”, ULAK, was launched in Kars.

Regarding the satellite market, TURKSAT, as a company founded in 1998, became the main satellite operator for voice, data, Internet (KabloNet and UyduNet), television and radio broadcasting. It also provides telecommunication services in a wide geography that extends to Asia and Africa through its satellites. TURKSAT also operates both the e-state portal of Turkey and a cable television platform and has global connections with other companies such as Inmarsat of America.  In the category of Telecommunications, TURKSAT was the first in the export sector in 2018. According to 2020 data, Mayen Telecommunication Services ranked first and TÜRKSAT was second in the telecommunication category among the “Service Export Champions of 2019” announced by the Service Exporters Association.

The aftermath of the coup attempt

In the aftermath of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the AKP government transferred the duties and responsibilities of the Presidency of Telecommunications and Communication (TİB) to the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) - which has an “aggressive blocking mentality”, as put by Yaman Akdeniz. During the post-coup attempt period, the AKP government not only implemented its legal restrictions but also deployed internet shutdowns and VPN restrictions.

BTK is linked to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, and its staff are government appointees. It acts as the central authority for all issues concerning telecommunications, which has the power to cut, slow, filter, and ban the Internet connections of either the entire country or particular territories. BTK operates filtering applications to provide a “safe Internet” to families.

According to the Twitter Transparency Report, a total of 7,070 (57%) court orders were sent from Turkey out of 12,499 court decisions sent to Twitter worldwide between 2012 and 2020. Turkey ranks first in this category. Turkey ranks first in the list of accounts that were closed and made invisible in the 2012-2020 period worldwide with 75 percent of all accounts. As of the end of 2020, Turkey was again in first place with 40 percent of all tweets that are withheld and made invisible. Considering the other requests sent to Twitter around the world, it is seen that Turkey ranked second with 42,455 requests between 2012 and 2020. 

Turkey, by citing the new law no. 5651, sent 1,000 requests to Twitter during its military operation into North Syria in October 2019. Four of the eight requests submitted to Periscope for removing content were from Turkey.

All editions of Wikipedia were blocked in Turkey on April 29, 2017, under the charges of “not removing the content” which endangers national security. In January 2020, the access block was lifted.

According to the last report published by Freedom House (October 2020 Internet Freedom), evaluating Internet freedom in 65 countries, which account for 87 percent of the world, and covering the one-year period from June 1, 2019, to May 31, 2020, Turkey's “global freedom score” is 32 out of 100 and its “Internet freedom score” is 35 out of 100, which marks a two-point deterioration when compared to the previous report.

 RTÜK’s intervention in the online mediascape

The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) was established in 1994 as per the "Act of the Establishment of Radio and TV Initiatives and Broadcast." Regulating broadcasters, providing licenses and auditing broadcasters are among the authority's responsibilities.

The regulation, which requires platforms broadcasting on the Internet to obtain a broadcasting license from RTÜK, entered into force on September 1, 2019 after being published in the Official Gazette. With this regulation, broadcasters can no longer provide broadcasting services without obtaining a license from RTÜK. Accordingly, the license fee is 10,000 TRY (~1,290 USD dollars) for Internet radios and 100,000 TRY for television and on-demand video broadcast. Digital platforms such as Netflix, BluTV and Puhutv came under the control of RTÜK. In November 2020, it was announced that Netflix and Amazon Prime Video were licensed by RTÜK. Finally, in December 2020, Netflix received a license from RTÜK.

As cited in the BİA Media Monitoring Report (October-November-December 2020), following the new regulation, RTÜK decided to remove the movie “Cuties” from the Netflix catalog on the grounds that the principle that the broadcast cannot abuse and encourage violence against children, the weak and the disabled was violated.

According to the press release by the RTÜK, satellite, and cable license fees are to be paid by the media service provider organizations for 2020 and broadcast transmission authorization fees to be paid by platform and infrastructure operating companies and channel/frequency annual utilization fee coefficient (K) has been increased by 9.1 percent which is the revaluation rate.  For Radio broadcasting, the satellite license fee is approximately  49.920,00 TRY for TV broadcasting services it is almost 499.200,00 TRY in 2020. The revaluation rate for 2019 had been increased by 22,58 percent. For Radio broadcasting, the satellite license fee is approximately 45.750,00 TRY for TV broadcasting services it is almost 457.500,00 TRY in 2019.

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