President Medvedev noted that the level of information technology development in Russia will determine the effectiveness of resolving such difficult tasks as rescue operations, energy conservation, and functioning of the e-government, while the extent to which information technology is spread will ultimately determine the living standards in Russia.
The President talked about the need to promote domestic IT products on world markets, specifying that Russia needs to elaborate a concept for telecommunications and IT technology development, engaging leading companies in that sector, universities, and the Russian Academy of Sciences. Implementation of the projects should involve using competitive Russian equipment and the most advanced space and telecommunication technologies. There is also a need to look into ways to ensure sustainable funding of the sector’s development and work on attracting private capital, Dmitry Medvedev added.
The President informed the meeting participants about the launch of Russia’s national Cyrillic domain ”рф“ and noted that the Russian president and government’s web-sites, already available in that domain, were the first to get the new addresses. Russia became the first country to get a national top-level domain in non-Latin characters.
Minister of Telecommunications and Mass Communications Igor Shchegolev and CEO of AFK Sistema Vladimir Yevtushenkov also spoke at the meeting.
The next meeting of the Commission will take place on the sidelines of the St Petersburg Economic Forum scheduled for June 17–19.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today’s meeting will look at implementation of telecommunications and information technology projects.
The International Exhibition for Telecommunications Equipment, Control Systems, Information Technology and Communications Services is currently underway. When I was abroad, I saw some of you here today on television at the exhibition. Mr Sobyanin [Sergei Sobyanin, Deputy Prime Minister and Government Chief of Staff] opened the event, which has made a good impression on everyone. The event is really something of a tradition now, especially when you consider that more than 600 companies are taking part, including around 400 companies from our country. Of course it makes us very happy to see our companies being so active.
As I understand it, this event is also showcasing quite a large number of projects with an important social dimension. Some of these projects I have already seen. This includes projects that are part of regional programmes to develop telemedicine and electronic healthcare policies that would guarantee quality medical services in every part of our country.
I hope that we will ultimately arrive at the point when telemedicine services will make it possible for even the most remote Russian hospitals or first aid and midwife centres to consult with top-level specialists. This is work we began five years ago now. I have seen a number of new installations and I hope that we are making progress in this direction now.
The telecommunications sector is growing very fast all around the world. It is growing faster than traditional economic sectors and in absolute size is comparable to the traditional economy. Third generation telecommunications services are expected to generate total revenue of more than $300 billion around the world. We still have some problems to address in this field, as we have discussed already. I hope the reports we hear today will address these matters.
The growing demand for information and telecommunications services reflects the issues at hand. Our domestic market is growing at an average annual rate of 15 percent or more, and in some areas by as much as 30 percent. But these figures represent above all the growing demand in our big cities. We therefore have the task of spreading development of modern services and communications to the whole country. People living in remote areas also need to have the same opportunities for access to education and information, and to be able to communicate freely with any part of the globe.
There is no need to prove to anyone today that a country’s place in the modern world depends also on how developed its information technologies are. This is a priority area for Russia. We are not the only country to place such importance on this sector. During my travels abroad I see that even countries that one would not think of as leaders in this area are developing quite well and have made information technologies one of their big priorities even though they have serious social issues to address too. So, it is clear that Russia is not alone here.
This project is an integral part of our structural economic transformations and government reforms. Our aim is to join the countries developing new technologies, products and services for the world. This work plays a big part in resolving other important issues such as rescue operations, timely medical assistance, energy conservation, the electronic government’s functioning and more. Ultimately, the extent to which we spread and develop information technology will soon determine the living standards in our country.
What do we need to do? We need to develop common approaches, a common conception for innovative systems in telecommunications and IT technology. I think it would make sense to get the leading telecommunications companies and top universities, as well as the Academy of Sciences involved in this work. We would also need to ensure sustainable funding for the sector’s development and work on attracting private capital, which I think is perhaps even more important. We need to develop a system that will encourage scientific research and commercialisation of developments, as we are doing in other areas, and we need to do this work as rapidly as possible, as we have already agreed.
Promoting our products on the world market will require us to develop and offer national communications and data transfer standards and protocols. This will enable the sector to choose and shape its development directions on the world market. Of course, we should not try to reinvent the wheel when it comes to communications standards, but in cases where we can offer innovations we should certainly do so. It is a lot nicer, after all, to see the world using your standards, rather than you always having to adapt to theirs.
This commission has already examined a number of projects aimed at modernising the television and radio broadcasting networks, including making the changeover to digital broadcasting, providing high-speed access to information network resources, and replacing old telephone stations with new automated installations. In most cases work on these projects is going well. Centre Telecom (joint-stock company) has installed modern communications equipment at all telephone stations within its network. Work is near completion on creating a test zone of extra-capacity fibre-optic lines, which will begin operation on June 15. Active work is underway on converting the radio frequency spectrum. Tenders for provision of broadband wireless access have been organised in 40 regions now, and the other regions will also hold such tenders soon.
I stress the point that these projects need to make use of the most competitive Russian-made equipment and the most advanced space and telecommunications technology. The commission has already made a decision on this matter and I would like to hear a report on its implementation.
I would also like to hear about the results for the six months that have passed since the commission approved the telecommunications sector projects, and about any significant problems encountered so far. This is something that needs to be addressed in the report.
Before handing the floor to the minister, I want to inform you that I signed an executive order today on evaluating the effectiveness of regional, local government, city district and municipal authorities’ efforts to conserve energy and raise energy efficiency in general. The executive authorities at all levels need to show what they are doing in practice in this area and explain what energy conservation measures they are taking and what results have been achieved.
A law will soon be passed and signed making it possible to use land at Skolkovo for carrying out a project to build an innovation centre. I want to thank our parliament for working so quickly on getting this decision through.
Coming to smaller but nonetheless significant matters, for anyone who does not know yet, the national Cyrillic domain рф is now working. I checked just now, opening the presidential and government sites using Cyrillic.
A number of state bodies will have sites with Cyrillic names up and running by the end of May. Commercial companies are expected to make their entry a little later, and priority reservation of domain names for companies will be extended to autumn 2010. Russia is thus the first country to receive a top-level national domain among countries that do not use the Roman alphabet. We have thus achieved our goal and obtained what we hoped to ever since this idea came up about two years ago.
One final piece of news is that the commission will hold its next meeting in mid-June in St Petersburg to coincide with the Economic Forum taking place there. A large number of you will be taking part in the forum. The forum should provide a platform this year for discussing innovation issues too. I hope that our foreign partners will also take part in these discussions.