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MOSCOW, February 9 (Itar-Tass) — Infrastructure being created for webcasting from polling stations during the upcoming prudential election in March will provide Russian schools with high-speed access to the Internet, Minister of Mass Communications Igor Shchegolev said.
“Some 50,000 schools have been connected [to the Internet] in Russia over the last two years,” he said, adding that initially the speed of connection in most of them was limited to 128 Kbps and then to 256 Kbps. The infrastructure being created for video broadcasting from polling stations during elections will help raise the speed of Internet connection time and a half.
“While before the speed was 128 or 256 Kbps, now we have to build a channel that will give 1 Mbps from the user. This is quite a broadband connection by all world standards,” Shchegolev said.
“The Internet is working well in 97 percent of schools even though we have made regions responsible for meeting all connection costs. The remaining 3 percent are either branches of schools, from which pupils are taken to the main schools for computer lessons, or schools that are under construction or reconstruction,” Education and Science Minister Andrei Fursenko said earlier.
“More than 20 percent of schools with access to the Internet use a 520 Kbps connection or faster, which is acceptable. But the question remains to be solved because 3 percent is a large number,” the minister said.
“As for faster connections, this question is being solved in big cities, and the speed has increased to 2 Mbps in a number of schools in Moscow. We advise regions to increase traffic, but understand that since this is regions' responsibility, we can only recommend, not demand,” Fursenko said.
President Dmitry Medvedev has demanded that 100 percent of Russian schools get access to the Internet and warned regional governors of personal responsibility for this work.
The federal government has completed the programme of providing schools with access to the Internet, but its further development will be a responsibility of regional authorities, Shchegolev said earlier.
Among priority tasks, the minister pointed to the need to bring the Internet to “children who study at home and limited in moving around”.
Shchegolev believes that the project will help develop distance learning and distance medicine at a totally new level. “This means not only the ability to transfer texts or graphical files, but also video lessons and two-way connection,” he said.