Three Russian joint ventures have opened a fibre optic communications link between Moscow and St Petersburg, affording more reliable telephone connections between the two cities. The link is likely to drive down inter-city and international telephone tariffs, and forms the first stage in a co-operation between US Andrew Corp and the Ministry of Railways which […]
Three Russian joint ventures have opened a fibre optic communications link between Moscow and St Petersburg, affording more reliable telephone connections between the two cities. The link is likely to drive down inter-city and international telephone tariffs, and forms the first stage in a co-operation between US Andrew Corp and the Ministry of Railways which could extend fibre optic cable across the entire country. US based Andrew Corp is the minority western partner in all three telecommunications joint ventures: Macomnet, Metrocom and Rascom. Macomnet, founded with the Moscow Metro, has laid fibre optic cable around the Metro circle line and on several of the radial spurs. Metrocom formed with the St Petersburg Metro, has extended fibre optic cable through most of the city’s Metro tunnel systems. Rascom, a joint venture with the October railway, links the underground networks together via the Moscow-St Petersburg railway. Andrew Corp has so far invested around $25m in the three projects – mostly in the form of equipment. The main market for the new facility will be other telecommunications carriers, the Russian government and larger organisations such as banks, Andrew believes. It reports that the link between Moscow and St Petersburg is operating at full capacity and Rostelecom is raising tariffs just to deter people from using it. The current links between Moscow and St Petersburg use copper lines and a microwave link. Neither have the capacity nor the reliability of fibre optic cable. The copper wire is old and has very limited capacity. Microwave connections are adversely affected by the weather and over long distances the hops between each antenna degrade the quality of the signal. The Macomnet network has connections with two international switches in Moscow and it is already being used by several international carriers to direct telephone traffic abroad. Customers now on the system include Sprint Networks and Areocom, which handles calls on the AT&T USA Direct service in Moscow. This month, Rascom hopes to sign an agreement with Telecom Finland to connect the network with Europe. If that goes ahead, prices should fall as customers will not be so dependent on expensive satellite services. During the launch, first deputy minister of the Russian Federation Ministry of Railways, Oleg Moshenko, signed a contract with Andrew Corp creating a joint stock company which will build a fibre optic link between Moscow and Vladivostok along the rail network. Floyd English, chief executive of Andrew Corp, says that the deal is completely separate from the 50×50 project headed by Rostelecom, and the company is not a participant in that project. Plans to span Russia by fibre optic cable have been held up for years by the recently repealed high technology export controls.