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The Ways To Get On-Line In Russia
September 30, 2012 22:37

Runet logo at the 2009 Runet Prize ceremony (Source:

The number of the internet users in Russia is going up rapidly from year to year. Now the internet is actively spread not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but also in the remote regions. The competition between the internet service providers (ISPs) is growing as well, and this makes them improve the quality, speed and convenience of the offered types of linkup that are becoming more profound. Besides, pricing policy is constantly changing. Our overview of the most popular Russian ISPs might help you to make the right choice.

In September 2011, Internet in Russia, sometimes called just Runet (although Runet mostly describes the Russian-language Internet), overtook Germany as the European market with the highest number of unique online visitors.


The percentage of population online in 2011 made 44.3% (61,472,011 internet users), and the age profile of the most active users was from 12 to 24:
- 12-17: 86%
- 18-24: 84%
- 25-34: 72%
- 35-44: 57%
- 45-54: 34%
- 55+: 10%

Currently the Internet access in Russia is available to businesses and home users in various forms, such as dial-up, cable, DSL, FTTH, mobile, wireless and satellite.  GPRS is spread everywhere, while 3G is mostly in the big cities.

To be able to use Wireless Internet Hotspots standard you need a special wireless network card installed in your computer. Actually, most modern laptops have it pre-installed. If not, it can be purchased for about $50-$100 at any IT store. Now there is a great number of the wi-fi hotspots in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other major cities in Russia. Many of them are free, and some charge $5-$10 per hour.

The mobile operators in Russia offer a very cheap GPRS and 3G internet access service, but  it's better to get a Russian SIM in order to save money on roaming charges. The main mobile operators in Russia are MTS, BeeLine (Vimpelcom) and Megafon. Megafon has the best GPRS coverage throughout the country (however, not in all regions). But if you stay in Moscow or St. Petersburg, you’ll be satisfied with any mobile provider. Besides, they’ve already started to launch 4G networks here.

If you are in some areas that don't have GPRS or 3G, you can still use GSM dial-up service.
High-speed (ADSL broadband) internet services are provided by LAN (local area networks) almost everywhere. There are various telecom companies in any region, depending on where you live. The prices for traffic differ, starting from about $10 per month.  The main ADSL provider in Moscow is Stream.Ru.
The easiest way to have a Dial-Up Internet Access is to buy an internet card, which is sold in many telecom shops and supermarkets. You need to make sure that the card you buy has the local access number in the city you are connecting from.  The most known internet providers are Russia-On-Line and MTU-Intel (in Moscow and St. Petersburg). One hour costs 30 rubles ($1).

The top ten largest operators in Russia by the number of subscribers are the following:
  MTS / "Comstar" (1724000 subscribers)
  "Center Telecom" (1497900 subscribers),
  "VimpelCom" (1421000 subscribers),
  "ER-Telecom" (1363900 subscribers),
  "VolgaTelecom" (1093000 subscribers),
  "North-West Telecom" (994000 subscribers),
  "Uralsvyazinform" (823100 subscribers),
  "Sibirtelecom" (757800 subscribers),
  "Akado" (707500 subscribers),
   STC (677800 subscribers).

The internet costs are falling down annually, while the speed is rising. The cheapest internet access is in the Central region, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The average tariff for unlimited access to the Internet at the speed of 2 Mbit/s is less than 300 rubles per month. The top five wi-fi operators in Moscow are Stream, Akado, Vimplecom, MGTS, and On-Lime. On-Lime offers the best tariffs together with the perfect quality. But as the experts say, MGTS is likely to launch an exclusive offer soon that might force out all the competitors.
The most expensive internet access is in the Far East. The residents of Khabarovsk pay for it about 1,783 rubles.
Actually, at the moment it’s impossible to name any ISP that provide the cheapest or the best quality service in the whole Russia, as the situation varies from one city to another. For example, in Astrakhan one has to pay 198 rubles a month for 110 Mb through a dedicated line. In Stavropol and Vologda the users prefer the dial-up access, which costs them 15 rubles an hour on average. In Nizhny Novgorod the fee for the internet through switchboards amounts to 10 rubles per hour. In Samara you can get unlimited internet through dial up per 1200 rubles a month. In Yekaterinburg linkup through dial-up costs 10 rubles per hour on average.

The fastest growing share of the Internet users in the largest cities of Russia get on-line via their mobile gadgets. In Moscow it is connected with the fact, that three main mobile Internet providers (MTS, Vimpelcom and Megafon) developed the 3G networks.

All in all, as the number of providers, who can provide the population with different types of the internet access, is gradually increasing, the cost of linkup through a dedicated line and ADSL decreases. WiFi is also becoming cheaper. If earlier the linkup to the internet was an expensive pleasure, then now practically all the providers offer free linkup, or for very little money. That results positively in the rapid development of the innovation technologies on the market, WiFi in particular.


Author: Anna Dorozhkina

Tags: Russian Internet Russian Internet users Russian Internet providers   

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