State Duma abolishes national roaming in Russia

The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011

MOSCOW, December 19. /TASS/. The Russian State Duma on Wednesday adopted a law abolishing national roaming for cellular communications in the Russian Federation.

According to the initiative, Russian telecom operators set the same conditions for mobile services to all customers regardless of their region within Russia.

At the same time, customers pay for telephone connections established with the number they called outside the territory of the Russian Federation. The law is expected to come into force on June 1, 2019.

In August 2017, the antitrust watchdog obliged Russian telecom operators of the Big Four (VimpelCom, Megafon, MTS and Tele2) to remove sharp differences in tariffs for calls in the home region and during trips around the country.

The national roaming is effective when telecom operators have no network in a specific region and have to pay other operators for using their networks, leading to a significant difference in communication prices in comparison with the home region.

The problem with the prices for roaming in Crimea existed because big Russian operators have not entered the region due to sanctions.
State Duma abolishes national roaming in Russia

The government over there in recent years really pushed to make sure cellular connection is available everywhere in the country, and I mean, everywhere.

Cell towers appeared all over, from tiny villages

to big cities

From the Caucasian mountains of Dagestan

to the snowy frozen landscapes of Yakutia in North Siberia

In Chelyabinsk region, there is a village called Parizh (Paris), founded, I believe I read, by some officer in 19th century who'd been to actual Paris when it was occupied by the Russians after the war with Napoleon and fell in love with that beautiful city; it is now famous for it's cell tower, shaped, by design, like the Eiffel


It has not come without resistance. Some especially older, Soviet-generation people actually fear the cell towers. They think the towers emit harmful radiation waves and such.

Just this year, a sign near some village somewhere called Repino

"No cell tower near our kindergarten. We will not allow you to give cancer to our children!"

Nonetheless, they have indeed spread far and wide. But the thing is, Russia is somewhat unique, in its sheer vastness and, again, various environments.

Russia has it all: frozen tundra in the Far North

the taiga, the impenetrable forests of Siberia

the steppes of the South, both in Siberia and European Russia

and the mountains too, Siberia's Sayan

and Altai chains

and Ural, which stands as a natural dark, solemn wall between European and Asian Russia

and, of course, the magnificent Caucasus, including Elbrus, the tallest peak in Europe and Eurasia

Both the size of the country and this complexity of its terrain present enormous challenges to cellular operators to cover its territory, even to the biggest companies. The reason why prices, "roaming", may have varied region to region is indeed because there are different operators and it is simply more expensive to provide services in some regions than others (try putting up cell towers on permafrost, for example lol).

And Crimea, as they mentioned, is a whole separate case in itself, with the international, geopolitical questions involved there...

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