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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Internet Points Hit the Street

MTA man using the terminal at Ryazansky Prospekt metro station on Monday.
Commuters on their way to work will soon be able to check their e-mail and surf the web as well as paying their utility bills at about one hundred wireless terminals dotted around the city.

MosAvtomat launched its first outdoor Internet access point outside the Ryazansky Prospekt metro station Friday. The terminal's Wi-Fi capabilities mean that they will be able to be placed in a wider range of locations than has been the case so far. The full range of hardware, including a printer and video camera, also means they can be used for more than just paying the bills.

The terminals have been developed to allow users to send and receive e-mails, audio and video messages, as well as print and download information to USB devices.

MosAvtomat will operate the terminals in tandem with Mail.ru, the country's most popular e-mail server, which provides the information content for the terminals.

A MosAvtomat engineer working on repairing some teething problems with the new terminal Monday was adamant that the information points would be hacker-proof.

"The software security is top-class," said the engineer, who declined to give his name. "There's no way hackers can cause havoc by running malicious programs on the terminals."

The terminals will help bridge an information gap by providing public information free of charge, MosAvtomat said in a statement. Users will be able to access the Moscow city database, view city maps and send SMS messages.

Only the first five minutes of Internet access on the terminals will be free, after which customers will have to pay for additional surfing at the rate one ruble per minute. Payment for utilities or mobile phone bills will also incur additional charges.

Denis, a student who declined to give his surname, paid his telephone bills using the terminal Monday. He said he only had praise for the location and convenience but added that he "would prefer not to have to pay the three rubles the machine charges for its services."

"I use it all the time," he said. "When you use the metro, you're always in a hurry, you know."

There are already about 50 or so terminals around the city, but few of them offer Internet services. City Hall has also been pursuing an information drive of its own, hoping to put around 100 terminals in different parts of the city by 2007. The city government has welcomed the initiative of private investors in the project.

"The city welcomes and cooperates with entrepreneurs who provide free and accessible information to Muscovites," city official Marina Dirke said.