Mobile phones ceased being sheer luxury and turned into an ordinary mode of communication long ago. Although it is sometimes hard to get to some distant village, whose only inhabitants are as ancient as the pyramids, in the near future all settlements of the country will be covered by “cells”. The village restoration program will give an impetus to mobile operators.
“All settlements of the country will have either mobile or fixed-line communication by 2011,” Communication and IT Minister Vladimir Goncharenko said. As of now only 8% of villages are “unavailable”. In 2005 alone a total of 248 million Belarusian roubles was spent on connecting 251 settlements, and the village got 65,000 telephone numbers, twice as many as it had been planned. “We invested more than 70 billion roubles in the village in the scope of the program,” the minister added.
The communication sector has been developing as fast as never before. Since 2001 the sector has received over 1.17 trillion Belarusian roubles in investments, enough to launch 1.07 million fixed-line numbers and switch more than a half of exchanges to digital. The traffic capacity of the Internet in Belarus rose 29 times over the past five years. Belarus is the CIS’ leader in terms of the number of telephones per 100 population. The figure stands at 35. The number of mobile subscribers hit 4 million late last year, and preferential “social” standards were made available to the needy.
The ministry still has much to do. Vladimir Goncharenko outlined the key tasks for the ministry at the recent board meeting that considered the performance of the communication sector in 2005. “The key task now is to switch at least 90% of all automatic telephone stations from analog equipment to digital technologies by 2010. About a quarter of all our revenues last year was from new services that became available after we switched to the new technologies. The quality improved as well,” the minister said. To meet the country’s communication requirement it is necessary to create an additional 600,000 fixed-line phones and attract about 2 million mobile users.