By the end of 1996, USIA will distribute computers and modems, and purchase e-mail accounts and subcriptions to wire services for independent print and electronic media throughout Russia. These e-mail accounts will allow Russian independent media to communicate with one another and link into national and international data banks. The wire service subscription will provide media outlets with alternate sources of news and information.
VOA is now on Internet. Those with access to internet will be able to receive VOA's newswire and correspondent reports instantaneously. Those individuals who have purchased sound boards for their computers will be able to hear VOA reports in their native languages with the perfect clarity of FM radio.
In Russia, VOA will institute a pilot project to electronically distribute USIA's daily "Wireless File" - a Printed news digest currently delivered by hand to over 80 Russian media outlets.
USIA's global television network - 'Worldnet" is now producing its daily news program 'Newsfile" in Russian. Russian Television Channel 4 and numerous independent television stations throughout Russia are carrying our daily news broadcasts. In addition, Ostankino TV, and Russian Television have both received television satellite dishes and receivers in order to be able to participate in telebridges via Worldnet with USG officials and private sector experts. Our Embassy in Moscow will have this capacity within a few weeks.
Worldnet's acquired TV programs - many of which focus on market economics and democracy-building - are dubbed into Russian and offered at no cost to Russian TV stations affiliated with Worldnet, and are available to Russian stations on video tape through our video libraries at our embassy and consulates in Russia. Through Worldnet, millions of Russians see hundreds of hours of high quality American documentaries on useful, timely topics.
In addition to dubbed American programs, Worldnet brings Russian TV documentary producers to the U.S. to make films on topics of mutual interest. Recent co-production topics included "Law Enforcement in the U.S.," "Defense Conversion," "Federalism," "Small Business Development." These films are then shown on Russian television stations throughout the country. In the coming year, USIA will also be funding indigenous Russian productions, filmed in Russia, on topics of democratic and market reform. The purpose of these TV co-production programs is two fold: to transfer useful, substantive information, and to help train and finance independent TV journalists and stations.
Through its various American libraries and resource centers in Russia, USIA conveys information about the U.S. and the Western World to Russian students, educators, journalists, government officials, and ordinary citizens. The centers have reference and periodical collections, books in circulation, information outreach services, student advising services, computer databases, internet, and serve as a venue for substantive seminars featuring American experts, and even offer English language classes.
USIA trains Russian journalists and media business managers through a variety of programs. USIA hosts seminars throughout Russia on topics such as media business management for independents.
Most of USIA's academic exchange and university partnership programs with Russia have already established grants in communications in order to build telecommunications expertise among future generations of young Russians. In addition, all of the scholarship programs actively encourage use of E-mail and distance learning tools to maintain contact and share information with grantees. As a result, at least 116 Russian institutes of higher education currently have e-mail addresses. E-mail has become a common, reliable method of communicating with universities throughout Russia.
Financier George Soros' program to link Russian fundamental science institutions to the internet will soon expand to the cities of Novosibirsk (specifically the institutes in the Academic City) and Tula, according to Soros officials here. Expanding the telecommunications network to these two cities is part of a larger program that would connect schools, universities, hospitals, and other not-for-profit organizations in 30 cities of the FSU to international telecommunications networks such as Internet.
Separate from his FSU program, Soros has been actively developing a computer network connecting fundamental research institutions in Moscow. The network is joined together by a fiber-optic cable which unites major scientific institutions such as the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University, and the Institute for Space Research. The Soros' Fund has invested approximately $600,000 in the project. Soros has been working on the Moscow project together with the Russian Fund for Basic Science which will contribute another $600,000 to connect 50 more institutions to the network, bringing the total up to approximately l00 institutions. In addition Soros has pledged to connect l00 schools and an undetermined number of libraries to the network.
Advanced wireless communications development has focused on applications that meet not only huge commercial and residential demand, but also on targeted educational, financial, transportation, medical and agribusiness needs.
In August 1994, the Russian Ministry of Communications and the Russian Telecommunications Development Corporation legally established a non-profit , non commercial "Telecommunication Forum." The forum is open to any Western telecom company active in Russia who wants to meet in an informal, off-the-record setting with Russian Government officials to discuss telecom issues, exchange latest ideas, and develop better personal relationships.
U.S. West has committed several million dollars toward establishing Business Skill Development Centers. USAID last month announced matching grants to help develop these centers, first in St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, and Moscow, and eventually in several other cities on a self-sustaining basis. Innovative aspects of the training include long distance learning applications and an unusually focused business curriculum. Other Western firms will eventually participate in the Centers as well.
International Gateways: With the Russian Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, U.S. West operates three new international gateway switches in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Service began in April 1993, and substantially improves the flow of international calling into and out of Russia.
Cellular Telephony: U.S. West and the St. Petersburg City Telephone Network Production Association built and operate Russia's first commercial cellular phone network in St. Petersburg, called Delta Telecom. Service commenced in September 1991. In Moscow, U.S. West and several Russian partners began cellular service in December 1991 as Moscow Cellular Communications. In January 1993, the MPT selected U.S. West as the coordinator of nationwide 900 GSM digital cellular telephone service, as well as the provider for service in 13 regions across Russia, with first commercial service to begin by the end of 1994.
In December 1993, U.S. West formed the Russian Telecommunications Development Corporation (RTDC), an innovative organization to manage, develop and fund telecom projects in Russia. U.S. West contributed all its Russian Businesses at fair value and attracted seven large private investors to create RTDC. RTDC will extend its existing equity of $140 million with debt and reinvest all dividends from its ventures to create a self-funding mechanism for the development of major telecom projects in Russia, such as the 50-50 venture with the MPT. The U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation provided $125 million in debt and quasi-equity financing to RTDC. USAID recently entered into an innovative grant with RTDC to establish several self-sustaining Business Skill Development Centers, beginning in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod. (Received November 18, 1994)
US WEST has been chosen as one of the implementors of the Russian Ministry of Telecommunications' large-scale "50x50" project which involves installing 50 digital switches throughout Russia and linking them with 50,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable. Estimated cost of completing the project is $40 billion dollars. U.S. West recently received a grant from USAID to establish corporate training centers in three Russian cities
U.S. West, working with its Russian partners, are upgrading the Russian telecommunications system. Denver-based U.S. West has invested in excess of $50 million in its NIS joint ventures. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is providing $20 million in political risk insurance to the Delta project. OPIC also provided a $125 million loan to the Russian Telecommunications Development Corporation, OPIC's largest loan to date.
AT&T formed a joint venture with Dalnaya Sviaz in St. Petersburg. The venture is called AT&T of St. Petersburg and will be responsible for the development, manufacturing and sales of transmission products.
Together with MGTS, AT&T formed a joint venture called Telmos. This operating venture offers local, long distance and international service to customers in Moscow and will grow to around 100,000 subscribers in 1994. Telmos has installed a 5ESS digital switch and fiber connection to various remote switching locations. The most important project is the $200 million contract signed in September 94 between AT&T, Rostelecom, MGTS and Telmos to build a new digital network for Moscow. This will rapidly expand Moscow's local and domestic long-distance service for businesses and residents, and improve the network's ability to handle international service.
In St. Petersburg, AT&T established a training center to provide training for Russian telecom specialists to maintain and operate 5ESS digital switching systems. In Moscow AT&T has built an international gateway and 2 satellite earth stations for Teleport, a joint stock company in which Rostelecom is the major shareholder. AT&T's international operations division has service agreements with Rostelecom and business overlay networks, making AT&T by far the biggest carrier for international traffic between Russia and the U.S. AT&T has built an earth station and will install an international gateway to provide AT&T world connection services. AT&T has contracts for telecom projects in Samara, Murmansk and the Russian Far East. AT&T-NCR contracted computer network projects with the Russian customs and the Central Bank. AT&T also has distribution agreements for their business communication products in Russia.
AT&T Bell laboratories has contracted the most prominent research institutes in Moscow and St. Petersburg for the services of 100 scientists and technicians. The agreements with the General Physics institute in Moscow and with Joffe Institute in St. Petersburg covers the services of researchers in the field of fiber optics. AT&T conducted negotiations to establish a research and development center in Russia and is selecting partners for local production of switching equipment.
Andrew's second venture in Russia received $8.4 million in insurance from OPIC. Together with state-owned Moscow Metro, Andrew Corp. established MACOMNET, a Russian limited liability company. This company is developing and installing a fiber optic telecommunications network for processing and transmitting data, voice communications and radio and television signals using tunnels, sites, buildings and premises of the Moscow metro. This is a $8.4 million project with a small control center in Moscow.
International Business Communications System's project in Russia involves the establishment and operation of a satellite telecommunications network for the use of mainly private Russian business entities in mineral-rich regions of rural Russia. OPIC is providing insurance in the amount of $25.3 million for this project.
International TelCell Group: This Connecticut small business is operating a commercial television, radio and communications network in Tblisi which will broadcast cable television programming to individual and collective customers in Georgia. OPIC is providing $7.6 million in insurance for this $7.2 million project. The project maintains an office centrally located in Tblisi.
In addition to insuring TelCell's cable television Georgia project, OPIC is also providing $6 million in insurance for a similar project in Uzbekistan.
U.S. telecommunications companies doing business in Russia have joined forces in creating the American Chamber of Commerce Telecommunications Subcommittee. The purpose of the subcommittee is to represent and promote the interests of American telecommunications companies in Russia.
The first action taken by the committee was to issue a White Paper detailing the situation on the Russian telecommunications market. The subcommittee has recently approved an action plan which calls for meetings ( fact-finding missions) to various areas in Russia in order to meet with local telecom companies and government officials. The first such "mission" has been scheduled for March 14 to go to Ekaterinburg to meet with government and private telecom representatives of the Urals. The subcommittee will also invite several telecom officials from the Russian government to speak before its members and plans to set up an "U.S. Telecom exposition" at the Russian telecom show in May.
To date, users of the Russian Link have included US doctors training Russian physicians in Family Medicine, scientists collaborating on joint space research, an FCC international video conference, and a US-Russian "Space Camp" student exchange. Brown is also a site on the NASA ViTS (Video Teleconferencing System) network providing US-Russian video conferencing for over 40 NASA sites nationwide.
Building on a more than five year working relationship with the Institute for Space Research and other Russian universities and research centers, several efforts at Brown are now planning coursework based on integrated models for distance learning realized within an existing network.
a. the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church offices in Moscow. The first $1000 donated for the project was "ripped off" by a sham Moscow internet provider; we are now raising funds, and supervisory capacity to be certain the wire and modem get placed with right provider this time. Hardware and technical support are contributed by the Russian Committee in NYC.
b. St. Alexy's Hospital, Moscow, will also be provided an E-mail linkage to the Russian Committee's group on social welfare. This will support the existing linkage between St. Alexy's and the NY Epis. Diocese which is beginning to train lay persons in Moscow how to do social action programs in Moscow, ie soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc.Tbis same link will allow physicians at St. Alexy's to have direct, ongoing relationships with a "telementoring" team at several different NYC hospital sites.
The Irkutsk Information Center provides information and contacts for Russian professionals who request such information. We work closely with a local Relcom access provider, and the bulk of our communication and information gathering is done via this Relcom-Internet link.
Citizens' Information Initiative has a US Director who operates from a Portland, Oregon office. This Director seeks information mostly via E-mail and mentors from the US to send to Irkutsk. The Director also collaborates on various development projects with the Irkutsk Center staff via electronic mail.
Our center has arranged professional exchanges and business training programs. We have assisted the Irkutsk local government in obtaining information required for municipal projects, and we have assisted countless others -- both Irkutsk and US professionals --- to connect.
Both the Irkutsk Center staff and the US Director in Oregon actively seek out and assist US businesses and organizations that wish to operate in Irkutsk. Again, this outreach is conducted mainly via Relcom-Internet links.
If it were not for the medium of computer communication, our project could not exist. Regular telephone communication is prohibitively expensive, and lines are obsolete and unreliable in Irkutsk. Faxes get through to Irkutsk only rarely, unless the recipient has a satellite connection ---- and, again, these are prohibitively expensive as a means of daily communication.
Computer-mediated communication has enabled our daily collaboration and cooperation from across the world. This once distant and obscure heart of Eurasian Siberia now participates in a dialogue with the world. Communications media are said to be morally neutral: they are simply tools, but they can be liberating ones if used for expanding human potential. Measured by such a standard, computer-mediated communication has been for us an invaluable instrument for the expansion of possibilities where once there were seemingly insurmountable limits. Look for an East Siberia section soon to be added to "Russian Friends and Partners" on World Wide Web. Citzinfo@teleport.com
Here is information about a couple of things the Art Pattison Communications Exchange Program is involved in, related to telecommunications links with Russia:
We are in the midst of organizing "New Media for a New World 95-96," which we hope will bring together partners in international on-line news ventures. Information is available via the World Wide Web site mentioned above.
We are an all-volunteer group based in the Seattle area, operating as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
To contact the Communications Exchange Program, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 206-292-8255 (David Endicott), fax 206-624-4953 or write to Art Pattison Communications Exchange Program, 26411 218th Ave. SE, Maple Valley, Wash. 98038.
( The "Enviro_Links" project is a technology demonstration program coordinated by the University of Alabama in Huntsville that provides for the installation of computing and communication equipment in both the Rostov region of Russia and the Tennessee Valley region of the United States. Through this effort, students and teachers in both regions are able to exchange environmentally related information with one another via the INTERNET, a world- wide combination of computer networks and is poised to be expanded throughout North America and Russia. This electronic linkage project was also designed to support the development of environmental education centers in the Rostov region and throughout Russia as part of an on-going partnership between the Tennessee Valley region and the Rostov region.
Through cooperation with CEC International Partners (formerly Citizen Exchange Council), a New York based not-for-profit organization, U. S. based corporations were sought to assist in the placing of necessary hardware with the two regions. A Huntsville, Alabama based company, Crystal Data International, donated personal computers for use in the project and were placed in several locations in within the Rostov Region in October, 1992. These computers are currently being used to generate and send electronic mail via the Internet, albeit on a somewhat unreliable basis. Hence the need for an investigation of new and innovative telecommunications mechanisms.
In early 1994, "Enviro_Links" project personnel began evaluating what type of hardware and software would be required at participating locations to enable more reliable links as well as developing methodology needed for the use of any new telecommunication links. The use of existing cellular telephone and/or satellite networks to facilitate these electronic links were investigated as well as newly emerging forms of electronic communication such as Amateur Radio Packet Networks. In March, 1994 five packet radio sites were established in the Rostov Region as a demonstration of how packet radio technology can be used to connect areas with unreliable telephone linkages. These sites are now being used in support a Russian - American student exchange and environmental research program called "Eco-Bridge" currently supported by USIA. Cox@atmos.uah.edu
( IBCS/RUSTEL - Partners in Russian Telecommunications
International Business Communication Systems, Inc. (IBCS) is a U.S. corporation developing an international network of local private telephone companies in Russia and other newly independent states (NIS) of the former Soviet Union. These local companies deliver high quality digital telecommunications services, primarily through satellite and wireless technologies to the key industrial regions of the NIS.
In Russia IBCS's operating partner is Rustel, a licensed Russian telecommunications company. IBCS holds a 50% equity position in Rustel, with the remaining 50% jointly owned by numerous Russian partners including the Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs of Russia and Rostelecom. Rustel provides modern telecommunications services primarily to domestic and western business customers throughout the Russian Federation. The company concentrates on the provincial capitals where the potential for economic development is great because of an abundance of industrial and natural resources.
The backbone of the IBCS/Rustel telecommunications network is a series of Telecommunications Centers strategically located throughout Russia. These centers connect clients to a digital earth station via terrestrial lines or wireless last mile solutions to provide worldwide voice, fax, data and video services. These telecommunications centers also include small business centers which are open to the public on a fee-for-use basis. Rustel Telecommunications Centers are currently operating in Ufa, Perm, Tyumen, Krasnoyarsk, Ekaterinburg, Ukhta, and Moscow. Over the next five years, IBCS/ Rustel network will expand to 80 Telecommunications centers throughout Russia.