23/11/2017 |

“Digital Economy” goes into Space


As part of the Digital Economy program, Russia may have a “Russian OneWeb” – a new hybrid network of satellite and cellular communications. To implement it, according to calculations, until 2020 will require 299 billion rubles.

Global communication

For the status of the “most expensive” direction of the program “Digital Economy”, the implementation of which is designed before 2024 inclusive, the projects of the “Information Infrastructure” area can apply. The total amount of their financing, according to the draft plan of measures (a copy is in RBC, its authenticity was confirmed by two participants of the working group that developed the document), to 2020 inclusive should amount to 423 billion rubles. At the same time, the working group (299 billion rubles) is planning to allocate the main expenses for the creation of the Global Multifunctional Infocommunication Satellite System (GMISS).

Previously, this system was not mentioned either in the program “Digital Economy” itself, nor in other public documents. In terms of events about the HMISS also a little information. It states that Roskosmos state corporation “together with interested organizations” should develop the concept of the system in January-March 2018. In the same period, the plans for the establishment of the HMISS should be taken into account in the strategy of the Roskosmos itself, and the supervisory board of Vnesheconombank should make a decision to finance the project on the basis of the investment project presented by Roskosmos. In March-June 2018, a “consortium for the implementation of the GMISS with the participation of Roskosmos, Vnesheconombank and other organizations should be established.” Until the end of 2020, the first stage of “development work with the development and manufacture of prototype components” of the GMISS should be implemented.

As explained by RBC, one of the developers of the action plan for the direction “Information Infrastructure”, the idea to create the HMISS belongs to Roskosmos. It’s about creating a new hybrid network of satellite and cellular communications. “Everyone understands that it is impossible to cover the country’s territory with cellular networks only,” the source said.

According to information from two participants of the telecommunications market, the project will be implemented by the Russian Space Systems Company (RKS, part of Roskosmos) or its structure. It will launch a grouping of low-Earth orbiting satellites that will provide a continuous covering of the Earth, said one of the interlocutors of RBC. The cost of creating a “hybrid mobile communications infrastructure (using a global satellite communication system)” was estimated at 19 billion rubles, and the development of a draft GMISS project – 30 billion rubles. extrabudgetary funds, which should be attracted in 2019. Conducting the first stage of development work in 2020 will cost another 250 billion rubles. extrabudgetary funds. The source of RBC described the project proposed by Roskosmos as “Russian OneWeb”.

The representative of Roskosmos declined to comment. Representatives of the RCC and Vnesheconombank did not respond to RBC’s requests.

OneWeb in Russian

OneWeb is a telecommunications company founded by former Google manager Greg Wyler in the UK. Initially, she planned to launch a network of 648 low-Earth orbit satellites that would cover the entire territory of the planet and would provide an Internet access service in places where it had not yet existed, particularly in Africa. Later, the number of satellites was corrected several times. The investors of the project were Airbus Group, Bharti, Coca Cola, Hughes, Virgin Group, Qualcomm, and SoftBank – in total they invested more than $ 1.7 billion in it.

Roskosmos also participates in the implementation of this project. The first stage of the satellites for OneWeb should be launched using the Russian Soyuz carrier rocket from the Kuru cosmodrome (Guiana Space Center in French Guiana), from Baikonur and from Vostochny. “Roskosmos” won the right to 21 launch, they should begin in 2018. According to Kommersant sources, the value of the contract was more than $ 1 billion.

In June of this year, at the Petersburg International Economic Forum OneWeb and the Russian JSC “Satellite system” Gonets “(also included in the” Roskosmos “) signed an agreement on the establishment of a joint venture. It is assumed that “Gonets” will deal with the sale of OneWeb resources in Russia, wrote Kommersant. In July this year, the head of Roskosmos, Igor Komarov, said in an interview with Business FM that the state corporation had concluded a new agreement with OneWeb, according to which the Russian side would also be a joint operator for the operation of satellites.

According to Sergey Pekhterev, the head of the department for work with individuals of the satellite operator AltegroSky, the document is most likely understood as not the creation of the Russian part of OneWeb, but the “organization of a complete clone” of this project. “OneWeb is quite a public company, it announced all agreements with the Russian side. Yes, and the indicated 299 billion rubles. enough to create a full-fledged new system at the first stage, “explained Pekhterev.

At the same time, the expert doubts the feasibility of creating such a system. “Even with OneWeb, there are doubts about the possibility of a project payback: 70% of the territory covered by the service is water, there are no users,” the representative of AltegroSky argues. “The Russian system will be able to sell services to friendly countries – Belarus, Venezuela, possibly the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union, Cuba, but the big question is whether they will have enough solvent users to pay back the costs of such a global system.”

Authors: Anna Balashova, Inna Sidorkova, Maria Kolomychenko.

Article in Russian: RBC Daily

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