Russia needs a nation-wide public communications network

30 september 2016

The Analytical Center has discussed methods, means and technologies for improving the efficiency of the communications sector. Participants in the event included representatives of federal executive authorities, high-tech companies, research and expert organizations.

There are a large number of companies providing communication services; some of them are major players with a significant market share while others are small operators mostly confined to specific regions, noted the CEO of the Association of the Telephone Communication Operators Sergey Efimov. “At the moment, global operators are putting a lot of pressure on small companies, often cannibalizing them. And the antitrust authorities are not paying any attention,” the expert noted. In the international market, there is a situation where a company that reaches a certain size becomes unmanageable. Similar processes are underway in Russia today. “It is impossible to find common ground with some operators today. And when a company starts pursuing its own interests only, its contribution to the development of the sector quickly dwindles,” Mr. Efimov believes.

Another problem in the telecommunications sector is the widespread use of external operators: Viber, Skype and others. “They are not licensed operators and so they cannot be shut down. And yet the public are using their services with the result that big operators are losing money. It is a whole new trend we are seeing today that has its own big risks,” the expert believes. To solve these problems, a shift is needed towards transmitting voice communication within the country via a single nation-wide network that does not differentiate between long distance and regional services. Mr. Efimov is confident all the requisite technical capabilities are already in place.

Vasily Levchik, Senior Officer with the GR Department at Tele2, noted that the use for cell towers of land plots that were never cleared for such use represents a critical regulatory risk for mobile operators. The problem can be solved through urban development land regulations. Two other risks the sector is facing is the effective ban (lack of an explicit permission) on identifying subscribers by dealers when entering into contracts and fire safety requirements that are impossible to meet, Mr. Levchik explained.

The experts also talked about the possible use of aerospace technologies to develop the telecommunications industry. Modern aerospace technologies, in the opinion of the specialists, hold a lot of promise for deploying communications solutions all over the world. At the same time, satellite communications systems can cover huge territories, including in high altitudes and moving objects, unlike the option of laying landline communications all over Russia.