Nearly 1,500 Tatarstan settlements still without mobile Internet

Nearly 1,500 Tatarstan settlements still without mobile Internet
Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

High-speed Internet for countrymen for 1,8bn rubles

As it is known, 2022 has been declared in Tatarstan as the Year of Digitalisation. Big groundwork to make sure digital services and possibilities will become accessible for every resident of the republic has been created in the last three years: more than 3,500 key social facilities have been connected to the high-speed Internet in Tatarstan.

The price tag was 1,8 billion rubles, while the project took 2 years and 2 months instead of 3. So in this segment, Tatarstan became a leader among other Russian regions. Vice Minister of Digitalisation of Tatarstan Albert Yakovlev and Ayrat Nurutdinov — director general of Tattelecom that implemented the project — reported on the completion of the national programme on 2 November. As Nurutdinov explained later, to win the tender, the company had to reduce the value of the contract by 44% — from 1,953 billion to 1,101 billion rubles. However, due to an increased amount of works, the amount rose to 1,8 billion rubles. By Nurutdinov’s estimates, the sum isn’t so big, from a perspective of the enterprise’s net income divided into three years, it is 6% of Tattelecom’s turnover.

To lay a record 1,450 km of the optic fibre cable this year, it is like from Kazan to Saint Petersburg, Ayrat Nurutdinov specified, 10 pieces of special machinery were delivered to the republic. Photo: tatarstan.ru

If earlier the Internet in schools, rural administration buildings, first aid stations or cultural institutions was available only via the obsolete copper wire based on ADSL where the highest data reception speed hardly surpassed 8 MB/sec, outgoing data was much lower, now thanks to the optic fibre connection in the facilities the speed for users became cosmic, so to speak, about 100 MB/sec. Also, rural first aid stations will be provided with computers at the republican treasury’s expense so that patients’ records are kept electronically, Yakovlev added:

“The development of communication infrastructure in the countryside is one of the important achievements of this project, optic fibres have been laid to 309 small rural settlements for the first time.”

The work on laying the optic fibre and connecting the facilities was at its peak this year — at least 2,300 social facilities have been connected to the wideband Internet, which is almost 80% above the plan. To lay a record 1,450 km of the optic fibre cable this year, it is like from Kazan to Saint Petersburg, Ayrat Nurutdinov specified, 10 pieces of special machinery were delivered to the republic. More than half of this distance was laid with their help. These cable laying vehicles, he explained, are equipped with devices resembling a plough that can dig trenches and simultaneously lay the cable up to 1,5 metres deep. In the end, the proactive work allowed increasing the amount of optic cable construction in Tatarstan 16 times. As of 2 November 2021, all connection works in the public contract had been completed.

The proactive work allowed increasing the amount of optic cable construction in Tatarstan 16 times. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

Residents of small villages won’t be taken away access to the Net

By the way, almost all social facilities connected to the high-speed Internet, which total 98%, are in the countryside. The Tatarstan map still has some white spots — it is 1,335 settlements that yet don’t have the mobile Internet, the so-called LTE, however, they can use smartphones to call, noted Vice Minister Albert Yakovlev.

This problem became a direct consequence of mobile operators’ unwillingness to work at a loss, Ayrat Nurutdinov added:

“Federal operators claim almost publicly that it is unprofitable for them to go to the settlements with less than a thousand residents and do this very unwillingly. We go to a lot of settlements with less than a thousand people, but it also becomes a sore point for us. Now we are working on technical solutions to cheapen, simplify the equipment to try to cover them without additional costs.”

The problem is going to be solved with the federal programme’s money too, it is designed to provide small settlements of Russia with the mobile Internet. From 2022 to 2030, 623 settlements with from 100 to 500 residents are planned to be connected to the mobile Internet in Tatarstan. This will require 1,6 billion rubles.

From 2022 to 2030, 623 settlements with from 100 to 500 residents are planned to be connected to the mobile Internet in Tatarstan. Photo: Maxim Platonov

The first 10% of the settlements will be provided with the connection in 2022. The list of villages and settlements will be made after voting that is taking place on the State Services, said the vice minister of digitalisation:

“It will be 2,000 settlements across Russia. On average, it is 25 per region, while in Tatarstan, 61 villages, more than the Russian average, will be covered with the LTE connection with the federal money.

High-speed Internet not in all Kazan facilities

Though the briefing was devoted to the completion of the connection of key social facilities to the Internet via optic fibre within the Russian Digital Economy national programme, it turned out that not all social facilities of the republic had access to the high-speed Internet. According to Yakovlev, about 11,000 facilities providing different services to the population are connected in total. However, a lot of cultural establishments, including in the countryside — cultural centres, clubs, libraries — stay without the high-speed Internet connection. Also, the list has some 2,000 kindergartens.

According to Yakovlev, about 11,000 facilities providing different services to the population are connected in total. Photo: tatarstan.ru

Both budgets — republican and federal — will likely finance the connection to the wideband Internet. Yakovlev didn’t say when all social facilities in Tatarstan would have high-speed Internet, he just added:

“The amount of work is very big, now we are going to categorise these facilities in number and hope that this job will also be completely done in five years.”

By the way, as Ayrat Nurutdinov noted in turn, Kazan still has facilities that are still connected to the world web via ADSL, which is the legacy of the 2000s. A regional operator intends to bring the high-speed Internet to their lives next year.

Angelina Panchenko
Tatarstan