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Remote city in Russia's Arctic receives fiber optic link to Internet

September 26, 18:29 UTC+3 NORILSK

The line will offer high-speed Internet access to the residents

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© Kirill Kukhmar/TASS

NORILSK, September 26. /TASS/. Norilsk Nickel’s branch, Unity LLC, has launched for a test period a fiber optic line from Novy Urengoi to Norilsk.

The line will offer high-speed Internet access to residents of Norilsk and other settlements in Taimyr. "We are giving the line to communication operators for test usage," the company’s Director General Tatyana Mokhova said. "They will test it as they think it appropriate."

According to her, the operators at first will make sure everything is working fine, and only after that will offer the service to clients. "Operators are commercial companies, and they are interested to offer the Internet to users as soon as possible," she said, adding six operators, both federal and local, have joined the tests.

Head of Norilsk-Telecom Alexander Shilyayev told reporters first clients would be able to test the connection right on the spot. Most likely, he continued, the tariffs will remain unchanged, but the quality of the Internet connection will grow manifold.

Director of MTS’s branch in Krasnoyarsk Oleg Nizomiddinov said the company was working on new tariffs, including unlimited-use tariffs, which has been "a nonsense for Norilsk," until the high-speed connection was organized.

New century of Norilsk communications

Russia’s Minister of Communications Nikolai Nikiforov said Norilsk had been for a long time Russia’s biggest city without a reliable high-speed Internet access.

"It is a true new milestone in Norilsk’s history," he said. "We have been waiting for this moment for many years. It was a complicated project, and I believe it can be called a true heroic deed of communication experts." More than 180,000 in Norilsk and 20,000 in Dudinka, as well as people living in other settlements in Taimyr will get access to the high-speed Internet, he added.

Nornickel’s CEO Vladimir Potanin expressed hope "the full-fledged Internet in Norilsk will change greatly the life in the city, and the company’s work." "The company has invested in this project - right to be able to implement innovative management technologies, to make the environment in the city favorable for employing new staff," he added.

Internet for Norilsk

As yet, the Internet comes to Norilsk via satellite channels. Unlike the broadband Internet access, the satellite access to the Internet has a very low speed (only 2-2.5Gb a second) and limited traffic, while the cost is higher.

In 2014, the Norilsk Nickel Company (Nornickel) undertook the obligation to provide fiber optic line to Norilsk's industrial district. Later on, the company organized a special branch for that purpose - the Unity LLC.

The project was to lay the communication line of about 965km. The line crosses Yamal and the Krasnoyarsk territory and it is divided into seven passages with different implementation technologies. The projected speed is 40 Gb a second, the equipment leaves an option for expanding the speed to 80Gb a second without additional investments, the company's head said. About 90% of the channel's capacity would be used by Norilsk's residents. The optic channel is due to be put operational in the second quarter of 2018.

"We now will finalize just a bit of construction, to bring it to the project solution," she said. "We shall do it this winter. However, already now the communication is available, the system is absolutely working." As the new communication system goes fully operational, the city will use the satellite channel as a reserve.

Financing

The investments in the project are at 2.5 billion rubles ($43.9 million). Norilsk Nickel will be using the new line to robotize work of its Polar branch, using SAP ERP systems, the company's Senior Vice President, Financial Director Sergei Malyshev said. At the same time, the company will compensate partially for its expenses on the communication line by the "last mile" service for communication operators, he said.

In June, the financial director said some of the "Big Three" operators had agreed to cooperate, and had signed memorandums on mutual understanding with a few major operators and a few smaller companies.

The project's payback period will depend on what demand the operators will see, and it would be clear after the line is put in commercial operation fully, the financial director explained.

"The company will distribute the traffic via local and federal communication operators, and those companies will structure relations with the consumers," he said. "The project's economic parameters will depend on how this market will develop."

"In laying the fiber optic line to Norilsk, the payback term was not the priority," he continued. "We realized the project was unlikely to be commercially successful. The main task we were solving is to develop the region, our main asset, our industrial base."

"We expect higher effectiveness in all spheres were information technologies are used at all," he added.

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