In particular, the discussion focused on the modernisation of motorways, including regional roads, and the creation of an up-to-date national infrastructure for developing the Internet and next-generation mobile communications.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Akimov, you organise and oversee the work on two national projects. Please tell me how it is proceeding.
Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov: Safe and high-quality motorways are among the ambitious projects being implemented under your Executive Order. This includes a very powerful regional component, namely, the task of bringing over 50 percent of regional roads in conformity with the official standards. This year, we will repair over 5,000 kilometres of regional roads and 4,000 kilometres of roads inside city agglomerations; this includes 6,500 structures and facilities.
The signing of contracts is our main task today. We are working according to schedule and will complete all tenders before the season begins. Contracts have already been signed in some regions, for example in the Voronezh Region. However, some regions are lagging behind, and we are now speeding up this work. Next year we would like to complete the signing of contracts for the entire project implementation cycle, and not just three-year contracts. This will make it possible to mobilise equipment, workers and resources.
Regarding the digital agenda, I would like to report on highly important aspects of fulfilling your instructions set forth in the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly this year.
The creation of a modern high-quality infrastructure is one of the most important tasks that precedes all others, to some extent. There are two major aspects here: we must expand broadband access and digital services to cover every household nationwide, and not just the capitals.
One of your instructions is to ensure that all educational institutions are connected by 2021, which means 40,000 schools. As of now, we have only 6,000 connected, so what we would like to propose here – and we are asking for your support and relevant instructions – is to use the already created digital broadcasting network.
We have installed more than 5,000 towers, supports on which Russian-made telecom equipment could be placed. It would be working in a multi-band, in the 450 MHz range, and in the higher bands. This would allow the signal to be transmitted from 5 to 30 kilometres to places we cannot reach with cables. I mean, all the towers will be connected to the cable network, and we will distribute the signal from these towers.
There is a problem when it comes to conversion of frequencies though. We have prepared a request. We have the funds allocated. We are asking for a contractor for this work to be determined. We are suggesting Rostelecom, which has a package of required frequencies. This will help us achieve the goal of connecting schools, and moreover, most importantly, of connecting police stations, district police officers, and paramedic centres. Overall, we will have to connect more than 100,000 facilities.
We must also make sure that digital documents are available to absolutely everyone everywhere, now and in the future, when we will be providing a full package of digital public services.
There is another important project, which also requires your support, Mr President, as head of state and as Commander-in-Chief – the conversion of the frequency spectrum and 5G problems. We have held several meetings with the heads of our four major telecom companies. They unanimously recalled your involvement in building fourth-generation networks, LTE and 3G. They said that model provided for a much less expensive mobile internet system in Russia, for example, one-tenth of its cost in the United States, one-third of its cost in Europe, and is very high quality.
Russia has quality high-speed internet, and robust indicators in this sphere. This would have been impossible without the efforts to free up radio frequencies.
The situation in this regard is quite challenging. Of course, we have the frequencies that can be allocated to this effect, but this could monopolise the market. The 3.4–3.8 GHz frequency band is mostly used for special communications. Decisions to this effect have to be taken in order to step up this work, and we stand ready to coordinate this process on behalf of the Government. We would like to ask you to issue corresponding instructions and allow us to regularly update you on this matter as part of the reports at the Council for National Projects that you chair. This could give this project a big boost.
There is a second critical aspect that, I believe, also requires your attention. This will be a huge market. According to our estimates, companies will spend some 650 billion rubles to deploy next-generation networks. We would like to prevent foreign vendors, i.e. equipment suppliers from the so-called big three oligopoly of Cisco, Huawei and Nokia from getting all or a substantial part of these funds.
We have great potential. I chaired a meeting on this subject in Novosibirsk, and this question was also mentioned at your meeting with the Delovaya Rossiya association. Fifth-generation equipment is a field where we have great potential. It has to be mentioned that software, not equipment, accounts for much of the costs, and Russia is well positioned in this segment.
Of course, there will be a lot of pressure, and it is understandable that all companies have strong positions in Russia, and there will be competition. Therefore, the requirements regarding the localisation of fifth-generation communications networks have to be quite strict.