All Russian Arctic settlements to get fast internet

By Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer - March 2, 2018
Children growing up here in Dikson on the Taymyr Peninsula will within some few years get faster internet. (Thomas Nilsen / The Independent Barents Observer)

A red-line through the President Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the-nation speech on Thursday was the need to improve Russia’s business and infrastructure competitiveness and transformation to the high-tech communication society.

In Russia’s high north, a well-known ironic saying is «internyet» when locals are asked about access to the global network of communication. That is now coming to an end, if to believe the Russian President.

“By 2024, we will provide almost universal fast internet access. The construction of fiber-optics communication lines will be completed to all major settlements with a population of more than 250 people,” the President promised from the stage. That includes the Arctic.

“Remote, small settlements of the Far North, Siberia and the Far East will receive steady access through a network of Russian satellites.”

High-speed internet to Russia’s remotest corners would revolutionize services for locals. «With the help of advanced telecommunications, we will open to our citizens all the possibilities of the digital world,» Putin said and pointed to online education and telemedicine. The President said people living in remote areas could then also actively participate in scientific teams and companies lifting their talents and competence.

“We also have all possibilities to quickly implement the 5th generation network for data transmission and internet of things.”

For private businesses and state-controlled petroleum companies, development of high-speed internet in the Arctic is more than welcome. Putin especially mentioned the Arctic shelf.

“We need to develop and localize key technologies and solutions, including for the development of the Arctic and the offshore shelf, for new systems in the energy, transport and urban sectors,” the President said.

Vladimir Putin said nothing about how to control and limit access to online information from abroad or domestic opposition groups or bloggers.