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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Telecom Expo Spotlights Market Potential, Needs

Where customers in Russia hear the crackle and fade-out of an old phone line, telecommunications companies smell dollars.

More than 600 companies, about half Russian and half foreign, are taking part in this year's Svyaz-Expocomm exhibition, looking to revamp the country's outdated telecommmunications network, which has been estimated to need tens of billions of dollars in modernization over the next decade.

"We need to find new markets and potential investors, and events such as this are extremely necessary to do this," Igor Denisov, general director of Moscow's Expocenter exhibition hall, said Sunday.

The exhibition, one of the biggest industrial expos in Russia, includes the latest technology in such areas as satellite communications, fiber optics, mobile phones and electronic mail.

Major foreign names such Siemens, Alcatel and Philips are setting up their stalls, along with smaller, newer Russian firms such as Lotec and Moskom.

Russia's antiquated communications network is one of the key areas in which foreign companies are eager to invest. Most telephones still use the analog dialing system, as opposed to digital networks now common in Western countries, and many rural areas are still without any means of calling the outside world.

But the high start-up costs of building a network are a major obstacle for many companies seeking to enter the telecommunications market, Denisov said.

"Today we don't have three or four large companies that are looking to work in the market, but many more," he said, explaining that many Russian firms were taking foreign partners to shoulder the capital costs.

According to the Rinaco-Plus brokerage firm, $800 million was invested in the Russian telecommunications industry in 1995, with about half of that coming from abroad. Communications Minister Vladimir Bulgak said last week that Russia expects $750 million of foreign investment this year.

The exhibition runs Monday through Friday from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. daily at the Expocenter on Krasnopresnenskaya Naberezhnaya.

Denisov said the exhibition will help Russian communication firms looking to operate in Western markets.