''Russia has the best expertise — no wonder America thinks that we influence their elections''

Andrey Yudov, the director of Rostelecom branch in the Republic of Tatarstan: 5G project, the country's transition to digitalisation and the refusal of foreign software

Data protection and digitalisation issues are the main issues facing everyone, regardless of whether it is an individual or large state-owned company. The head of the republican branch of Rostelecom, Andrey Yudov, answered not only what global challenges the industry faces, but also how to cope with them, during the online conference Realnoe Vrmeya.

Abandoning traditional telephony

The year has been rich in events for the branch of Rostelecom in Tatarstan — participation in the World Cup, in the presidential election, the state exam. In the key events, Rostelecom acted as the service provider. Recently, the company has rebranded, which allows us to talk about a completely new level of service delivery.

''We told the market that we are not only a telephone operator. We are a global digital operator that provides a full range of digital services. We are growing, subscriber base is growing,'' director of the branch of Rostelecom in the Republic of Tatarstan Andrey Yudov said.

Digital services expectedly show the greatest growth in consumption, but the number of users of traditional telephony, on the contrary, is falling. ''Every year the drop in home telephony is about 5-7%. People can refuse in favour of other services, young people, for example, prefer to send voice messages in messengers. Enterprises, in their turn, optimize services, choose virtual ATC,'' explains Yudov.

5G testing

Rostelecom is testing the experimental 5g network in Innopolis, the project will be completed by the end of the year. We can already talk about certain successes.

''We have conducted a large number of tests, you can see the difference between 4G and 5G. This standard is just beginning to develop. Most likely, we will finish testing at the end of the year. But already now we have shown that the installed equipment is working, the declared parameters are fulfilled. These are the most important conclusions,'' Andrey Yudov confidently says.

The 5G technology is entrusted with the industrial task. If any production system is tailored to scan the space, identify itself in it, without 5g network the complex will not work

In Innopolis, it was presented a test site where one could play virtual football using 4G and 5G. In the first case, it was immediately noticeable that the game was not as fast and did not respond to all movements, unlike using 5g network. ''Even the president played on this stand, I also participated,'' Yudov said.

The branch of Rostelecom in Tatarstan expects to conduct the second stage of testing of 5G network later.

''This technology has been assigned with the industrial task. If any production system is tailored to scan the space, to define itself in it, without 5g network, the complex will not work,'' the head of the company is confident in the prospects.

Energy saving lighting

Another project, which the branch of Rostelecom is actively engaged in, is the installation of energy-saving street lighting in Zelenodolsk.

''This contract is valid. We together with the city administration have already installed up to 4,000 led lamps. Despite the difficulties, the project has been successful. Lamps become smart, they need a control system, communication. It is budget saving,'' Andrey Yudov explains.

It is noteworthy that the contract is drawn up in such a way that Rostelecom will be able to receive funds spent on the installation of lamps only if there are savings in resources. ''We are confident in the automated system, in the lamps, so we go for it. The central part of the city has already use this lighting. Similar projects have already been implemented in Tatarstan, for example, in Yelabuga,'' Yudov continues.

You do not go outside barefoot, after all. The same is with the Internet, do not go barefoot on the Internet. The simplest things allow you to be protected, we are talking about anti-virus programmes

Digital threats

Without digitalization now one cannot do even in street lighting. But with such an active development of the digital economy, there are increased risks associated with cyber attacks.

''Basically, they are related to financial issues or hooliganism. The number of cyber attacks is growing from year to year, the volume of such traffic is also growing at a huge pace. Under these conditions, we must protect our customers. In 2018, we bought Solar Solution, which was and is the leader in the field of data protection,'' Yudov told about the acquisition.

According to him, among the most common ones — DDoS-attacks. ''The system cannot process it, the site does not work. At this time, information can be stolen,'' the expert warns.

The security of the information that is stored on the cell phone is a separate issue that still needs a lot of attention.

''You do not go outside barefoot, after all. The same is with the Internet, do not go barefoot on the Internet. The simplest things allow you to be protected, we are talking about anti-virus programmes. There are absolutely free,'' says Yudov.

It is predictable that in the conditions of transition to the work on the Internet, digital services are in demand among most companies. ''This is an opportunity to optimize the work, the budget, to bring production to a new level. Why gather all branch managers if you can hold a video conference?'' Andrey Yudov suggests.

Government agencies also have a great need for data protection. Maybe someone neglects protection against Internet threats, citing that it is expensive. In any case, the losses from a real cyber attack will be much more serious.

''The scale of expenses on protection and elimination of consequences if attack takes place, cannot be compared, one case can justify five-year investments. Protection services are not critically expensive, the main thing is to properly allocate the budget. We, at Rostelecom, can conduct a test cyber attack, show what will happen if it happens. After such experiment the majority agree with need of protection,'' Yudov cited examples.

In our country in the field of protection there are the greatest companies globally renowed. We have best expertise, for good reason Americans think that we influence their elections. We have serious expertise in the field of information security. The intellectual work of our specialists is in demand all over the world

Based on experience, he says that the banking sector is most interested in the protection of personal data. ''They understand how critical a cyber attack can be, it can kill a business,'' explains the head.

Rostelecom is the holder of biometric database, a similar service is provided to banks. ''When you visit the bank, you leave your facial expressions and voice for recording, it is an absolute identifier. After that, you can get services at home, the identification will take place by a video image. The double authentication by facial expressions and voice is almost impossible to forge,'' Andrey Yudov explains the mechanism. He found it difficult to name the exact amount of investments of Rostelecom in this project, but suggested that it is hundreds of millions of rubles.

According to Yudov, the companies are ready to entrust data protection to the participants of the Russian market. ''In our country, there are the greatest companies globally renowed in the field of data protection. We have the best expertise, for good reason Americans think that we influence their elections. We have serious expertise in the field of information security. The intellectual work of our specialists is in demand all over the world,'' the head of the Tatarstan branch of Rostelecom told about advantages.

Addressing digital inequality

In the issue raised by the federal government, according to Yudov, Tatarstan approves itself better than other regions, the republic has done much before the question was raised at the federal level. ''Internet penetration in Tatarstan is higher than in Russia. We have involved 680 settlements in the project, the traffic is growing every month. I think that the next stage will be the transition to less populated areas. For example, among the unconnected — settlements with a population of about 100 or slightly more than 100 people. I think that in 2019 we will be able to connect at least 700 settlements,'' Yudov suggested, noting that he is not developing the programme, but only executing it.

In terms of eliminating the digital inequality, the issue of Internet connection of health facilities stands separate.

''We have connected about 170 institutions to the Internet this year, including hospitals and polyclinics. It's not like that it had not had it, but it was necessary to provide a high speed, for example, in order they could conduct a video conference. I think we can say that all medical institutions are already connected (to the high-speed Internet), contracts are being signed,'' says the expert.

For a long time our country did not participate in the development process. We have stopped our development in this area. We're really behind there. Obliging companies to use our software is probably right decision

Foreign or domestic software

At the state level, the question of the need to switch to domestic software is already being raised. If they suddenly say that this transition will need to be implemented immediately in 2020, Andrey Yudov admitted that he did not know what to do, because the real term is ten years.

''We have a very large share of foreign software in state-owned enterprises, 80% for sure. It so happened that for a long time our country was not involved in the development process. We have stopped our development in this area. We're really behind there. Obliging the company to use our software is probably right decision,'' the head of the branch of Rostelecom commented.

But the transition to digital television in 2019 is the prospect that already exists. Andrey Yudov acknowledges that Tatarstan is likely to be the place where there will be bad reception. ''It is impossible to stay in the last century of analogue television. We are lucky that this is happening in our time. We are participants in this process. Someone would say that there has appeared progress, there are interactive features,'' said the expert.

By the way, the statistics on penetration of IP television in Tatarstan is positive, Andrey Yudov says that it is about 700,000 families in the republic.

He is not in a hurry to conclude that television has begun to become less popular. There is a division of the audience by channels, but the volume of watched programmes has not decreased. According to Yudov, the television was a flagman, and still is.

If the transition to digital television is planned for the middle of next year, the VAT increase will occur from 1 January. The head of the branch reassured that one should not expect serious changes.

''As Putin said, if the increase has an effect, it will be 1-2%. Each structure will decide in its own way, I think the prices will not change. We are not supporters of the marketing wars, I want to provide a good service,'' reassured Yudov.

In the meantime, digitalization is a key challenge for the telecommunications sector.

''This is the first and main task, all Russia is involved in this project. We need to get the mean average up. The modern world dictates these conditions, Russia cannot lag behind. There will be the development of services from the point of view of content fullness. I will not say that something will change globally. For example, the speed of the Internet is going to increase, people will want high speeds. Penetration of digitalization will occur more deeply both in business, and in public sector,'' Yudov predicted.

By Yulia Kosolapkina. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov