US firm to fund Russia's new telecomms infrastructure By Linda Leung Russia?s bid to install a country-wide cellular network encompassing television, data and telecomms has received a $1 billion boost from a US venture capital firm.
Russia Telecom Investors Fund (RTIF), an investment company set up by US venture capitalist Americas Partners, will pump $1 billion into the scheme over five years.
The project to modernise Russia?s inadequate telecomms infrastructure is called Cellular Vision of Russia. It is part of President Boris Yeltsin?s ?Narodny [Public] Telephone Programme?, which he hopes will help kickstart the economy. Building a cellular network from scratch would be cheaper than spending $40 billion upgrading the country?s existing set-up, say officals.
Some Russian have been waiting 10 years for private telephones and there is a backlog of 20 million telephone lines. According to Russia?s Ministry of Telecommunication, only 17 per cent of the population has any phone service and only eight per cent have the facilities to make long distance and international calls.
CVR is being overseen by US-based Cellular Vision Technologies and Telecommunications, the Russian Ministry of Telecommunications, and the Moscow City Government. The network will bring TV, data, national and international telecomms to Russia?s 165 million-strong population.
RTIF chairman and chief executive, Joseph Bernstein said: ?This [investment] allows Russia to leapfrog the simple cellular phone service we have come to depend on in the US and use the latest wireless technologies to expand along the entire communications spectrum. In a nation that is seeking to embrace free market values, this is a powerful tool that goes far beyond addressing the 20 million requests for telephone lines that are now unanswered in the Russian Federation.?
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