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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Telecom Legislation Advocated

Russia's Communications Ministry and experts urged legislators Tuesday to develop telecommunications legislation they say is an essential part of the modernization and de-monopolization of the country's telephone network.

"At the beginning of next year, the basic outline will be finished for a modernization of long-distance connections," said Alexander Krupnov, first deputy minister of communications, in kicking off debate in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

"With its completion, the problem of international telecommunications will be solved for the next 10 years," he said.

Agencies such as the World Trade Organization and the European Union have been urging Russia to change its domestic network and system of tariffs to comply with international norms.

Many Russian telephone networks do not charge, or charge minimal fees, for usage, following Soviet custom. However, metering -- charging customers based on the length of their calls -- is continuing to be introduced, Krupnov said. Metering exists in 21 cities in regions such as Perm, Kemerov and Yaroslav.

A report by the Communications Ministry calls for major legislation in areas of licensing, regulation and expanding telephone service to more customers.

Russia's telephone density -- the number of telephones per 100 residents -- is two times lower than that of most developed countries, Krupnov said. There are just 27.9 million telephones, of which the residential sector accounts for 80 percent, he said.

Duma Deputy Vladimir Lapatin criticized the building of Russia's telecommunications network almost entirely with imported equipment.

But private sector officials countered that wide-ranging telecom and taxation legislation, which will aid de-monopolization and passage of a new tax code may generate enough revenue to fund the domestic equipment industry.