According to Akamai’s Q3 2015 rankings, the average downlink Internet speed in Russia is 10.2 Mbps and the average uplink speed is 15 Mbps.
Population & Internet Availability
The current population of Russia is approximately 144.3 million. More than 70% of residents have access to the Internet, especially broadband connections.
Main Types of Access to the Internet
Russian residents can access the following types of Internet services:
– Dial-up (slowly getting replaced with broadband connections)
– Cable Internet
– DSL (notably ADSL Internet)
– Wireless Internet
Internet Access – Dial-up Internet
Dial-up services remain somewhat popular among Russian Internet consumers in regions located outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg, due to lack of competition between internet providers and lack of intent to improve the infrastructure so as to support broadband connections. Dial-up is also arguably more expensive than traditional broadband connections owing to the technology used.
Internet Access – Cable Internet
Cable Internet services are widely used by local internet customers, and are available mostly in Russia’s bigger cities, such as Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Novosibirisk, as well as Ekaterinburg. Telecoms that provide cable internet include but are not limited to: Rostelecom, BeeLine, MTS, and Megafon.
Internet Access – DSL Internet
As with cable internet, DSL Internet is also available only in the bigger cities mentioned above, and is provided by the same telecoms. The difference lies in DSL being slightly cheaper than cable internet, due to the fact that it is provided via telephone lines that most people are already connected to.
Internet Access – Wireless Internet
Even though Internet penetration rates have increased drastically over the last years, from 40% in 2005 to a whopping 70% as of late 2015, it remains somewhat unsatisfactory as a great number of people located in remote areas (e.g. in less developed cities or in the countryside) still cannot access the internet via traditional methods. Such customers have to resort to wireless connections to access the internet, notably satellite connections. Furthermore, due to Russia’s surface area (1st in the world), it is also quite impossible to provide reliable Internet connections to every resident without incurring massive costs.
Internet Censorship in Russia
Russia remains one of the most restrictive countries in the world in terms of internet access, as observed by many private organisations and NGOs, such as Reporters without Borders and Freedom House, both of which deemed Russian internet “not free and under strict governmental surveillance”. Russia censors internet access in the traditional sense of the word, by blocking access to popular social networking sites such as LinkedIn or any other websites deemed inappropriate. Users who try to find workarounds (i.e. use VPNs) to access such websites may be held liable. Russia has also recently passed a legislation that now permits data preservation for a period of up to 3 years, which curbs internet transparency all the more. On paper, the Russian constitution provides for freedom of speech and press; however, the reality is drastically different.