The Ministry of communications has proposed to remove the payphones from the major cities of Russia

Photo: Photobank Lori

The Ministry of communications has proposed cochranite number of payphones and points of access to the Internet. They should leave only in settlements where lives less than 10 thousand people, said the Ministry. This will allow you to save at least 1.5 billion rubles per year

The draft amendments to the law “On communications”, prepared by the Ministry, published on regulation.gov.ru. In particular, the Ministry proposed to maintain the mandatory payphones with free access to emergency services only in settlements with population less than 10 thousand people. Now by law they have to be everywhere.

Photo: Alexander Kolbasov / TASS

In addition, it is proposed to waive the requirement to install at least one point of Internet access in settlements with number of inhabitants from 250 to 500 people. Instead, the Ministry wants to lay the responsibility to determine the list of settlements, which must be installed at least one means of collective access to the Internet. Public discussion of the draft will last until may 4.

There are 935 settlements with a population of more than 10 thousand people, says CEO “TMT Consulting” Konstantin Ankilov. If the initiative is approved, the number of settlements “fall out” from the amount allocated for the provision of universal telecommunications services, which include access points and public telephones. These services are funded from the universal service Fund — a Fund to which every operator contributes to 1.2% of revenue from telecommunications services.

As told RBC representative of Rossvyaz Vladimir Kalinin, in their estimation by reducing the number of points will be able to save 1.5 billion rubles per year. For example, in Moscow has 128 access points and 638 booths, and in St. Petersburg 110 points and 399 payphones. Maintenance costs to the Fund of 19 million rubles. annually, estimated Kalinin. Just for 2016 in Russia, there were 21 thousand points of collective Internet access and a 147 thousand public phones.

The digital divide

In 2014, the only operator of universal service became “Rostelecom”. The company given the task of removing the so-called “digital divide”. The state operator of communications needs to build 200 thousand km of fiber-optic communication lines and to organize 14 thousand points of Internet access in the villages with a size of 250-500 residents. However, the operator is faced with significant under-funding of universal services in 2016. Is 14.8 billion rubles in the budget for this purpose was laid a total of 8.9 billion RUB.

At the end of 2016 was adopted by a three-year Federal budget on financial provision of universal services in 2017 it was planned to 11.9 billion rubles, in 2018 – RUB 12.4 bn in 2019 – 13,7 billion rubles, said the representative of “Rostelecom” Valery Kostarev. He believes that the funding situation will improve, but the amount will be less than the initially announced figures: 163 billion rubles for 10 years, or 16.3 billion RUB per year on average. The proposal of the Ministry of communications Kostarev has not commented, citing the fact that while analyzing the document.

Due to underfunding of the universal service in the fall of 2016, the head of the Ministry Nikolai Nikiforov said that almost all of the points of collective access to the Internet will be closed until the end of the year. It was about the settlements, which are home to 500 people. As said the representative of Rostelecom, at the moment these items are closed.

The demand for collective Internet access

The General Director of the analytical company “TMT Consulting” Konstantin Ankilov noted that over the past five years, the popularity of points of collective access to the Internet has steadily declined due to the growth in mobile phone penetration in rural areas. “The total traffic passing through access points, fell for five years in order to 2015 it was only 600 GB. For comparison, as an average for the year consumes one user fixed broadband Internet access or a dozen and a half mobile Internet users. Through single community access points takes about 30 MB per year,” says Ankilov.

In this case, the solution to the problem of eliminating the digital divide in Russia is not only “Rostelecom” and private operators. In 2013 the state Commission for radio frequencies (SCRF; is engaged in the distribution of frequencies in the country) adopted a decision according to which the allocation of new frequency bands or extension of the period previously furnished the operator has additional requirements for coverage of the settlements with number of inhabitants from 1 thousand to 10 thousand depending on the frequency range. For example, when renewing or obtaining new frequencies in the 1800 MHz band, which has a connection to the GSM standard (2G) and LTE (4G), the operator receives the request to cover their networks all settlements with a population of more than 2 thousand people. The decision of SCRF also indicated schedule, in accordance with which the operator must provide a signal in small towns. So, 99.9% of these villages should be covered for seven years.

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