Ministry setting Digital Economy agenda; regulator bans four messaging services

5 May 2017

The Russian Ministry of Communications has drafted its ‘Digital Economy’ programme, including a proposed new strategy for targeting Universal Service Fund (USF) spending, whilst channelling other sources of sector income – including radio spectrum fees – into a new Digital Economy development fund, ComNews reports. As previously reported by the same source, at the end of 2016 payments from operators into the USF amounted to RUB13.7 billion (USD237 million), but the sole Universal Service provider, Rostelecom, complained that it only received RUB8.9 billion in USF funding for its state-subsidised projects including rural broadband rollouts.

Among other aims set out in the Digital Economy draft programme, the Ministry stated that 5G mobile networks should be commercially available in eight Russian cities (of over one million inhabitants each) by 2020, and at least 15 major cities by 2025.

Also in Russia this week, Vedomosti reports that telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor has blocked Russian user access to four mobile/OTT messaging services, namely BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Line, and Vchat. The watchdog gave the reason for blocking the services as failure to register on its list of ‘information distributors’ – which are defined as website owners allowing the sending of electronic messages.