A draft law introducing universal mobile service access points for Russian settlements of between 100 and 500 people has been approved by the government and sent to the lower house of parliament (State Duma) for consideration, reports ComNews. The amendments also remove Wi-Fi-based shared access internet points from the list of universal communications services (UCS) after such rollouts ceased due to a lack of demand.
If the amendments are passed, settlements of 100-500 inhabitants will be covered by the UCS programme for the first time. The draft envisages settlements with a population of 250-500 receiving mobile UCS access point coverage by 2024 and communities of 100-250 residents gaining UCS access by 2026. State-backed Rostelecom is currently the sole UCS provider, and is expected to fulfil new mobile UCS commitments via part-owned mobile subsidiary Tele2 Russia – although with Tele2’s coverage being less extensive than larger rivals MTS, MegaFon and Beeline, the actual network provision in certain zones could be contracted out.
MegaFon’s corporate communications manager Dmitry Lukyanchikov was quoted as saying that he believes the bill could enter law before the end of this year.