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Review 1996

Author: Mikhail Doroshevich

Belarusian organizations providing telecommunication services have always been a part of Russian networks. And this is also true today. Relcom was the first network to develop in Belarus. Its most intensive development was occuring during the times of breakdown of the Soviet Union. Relcom was used by commercial organizations to spread their information. At that time (in 1992) there were only 10 Relcom nodes.

Unfortunately, out of all the Internet services, we in Belarus use primarily e-mail.

There are several networks that function in Belarus, with different levels of services, prices, and technical support:

BelPak
BelPak - state owned data transmission network with packs commutation. It delivers mail via Russian Demos. BelPak had received EC credit for its development, and keeps monopoly on communication lines in Belarus. That enables it to set high fees for its services. BelPak gives access to the Internet by phone (using SLIP or PPP protocols), and only in text mode. It is possible to get access by using a leased line, except that one has to pay about $ 600 a month.

Supposed advantage of the BelPak network is the presence of regional representatives in oblast' cities (regional centers). Its announced plan about spreading in 1995 by creating network nodes in big provincial (regoinal) cities (Polotzk, Molodechno, Soligorsk, Bobruisk etc.) did not take place.

Prices:
Connecting to a net line $ 17
Installation $ 3
Advance $ 8
Monthly payment $ 2

A total of $ 30, considering that these fees are for Belarusan citizens only. Foreigners would have to pay a few times as much. Furthermore, you will have to pay for each kilobyte of information sent or received (about 3-6 cents per kilobyte).

Telephones:
Minsk 375 172 273206Magilyov 375 222 228782
Brest 375 1622 54746Vitsebsk 375 212 372955
Homel 375 232 530184Hrodna 375 152 470199

E-mail address: postmaster@gis.minsk.by

Sprint
Sprint - SprintNet is a joint venture of US Sprint and a number of communication enterprises from the CIS, created to provide various telecommunication services (including E-mail) within the former USSR. SprintNet can be a very useful interlink if you want to enter commercial nets in the US (e.g. America On-line, CompuServe, MCIMail). Recently MicrosoftNetwork was added to this list. But one must remember that besides the low network speed, the cost per minute is very high for general public. And the accident at the central node in Moscow last summer had also demonstrated that there are no absolutely reliable networks. To use Sprint for E-mailing is far too expensive (X.400), and their Internet addressing is too awkward. Thus it looks rather strange to decide to create the Belarusan National Network on the base of the Sprint technology. But for international organizations working in the "single office" mode, this network is relatively reliable.

Office telephone in Belarus (BelaAVM company):
375-172-345924,
375-172-347972

E-mail address: /G=AABBMM/S=AABBMM/O=ASSOCIATES.SMAIL/@sovmail.sprint.com

GLASNET-BY
GlasNet-BY. It is a branch of the Network Systems company and the Russian GlasNet network node.

Amidst GlasNet-BY aims:

First - to provide low-cost access to e-mail for the maximum number of users using convenient bi-language interface;

Second - to teach how to correctly use the Internet informational technologies (providing opportunities to work with the Internet software on local net, which contain a great deal of educational information -- the Internet resources' catalogs and guides (in both languages), demonstrating how to work with the Internet, and also how to create modern networks.

GlasNet-BY takes part in and supports educational and ecological projects, non-governmental public organizations (providing discounts and technical support). Further widening of its net is happening in Minsk, new nodes are being opened in Belarusan cities, the number of services is increasing.

GlasNet-BY phone 375-172-96-49 61

E-mail address: alexeyko@by.glas.apc.org

UNIBEL
Unibel - network for education and science in the Republic of Belarus. It was created to provide direct access to the the Internet network for scientific and educational communities in Belarus.

The Unibel net has grown from the "Open contact" company - one of the oldest Russian Relcom nodes in Belarus. It has low fees, and provides a wide range of services. Unibel provides full access to the Internet through dial-up and leased telephone lines.

Unibel has established the first Belarusan WWW-server http://unibel.by

Unfortunately, today Unibel cannot provide full and reliable access to the Internet. It is involved in the completion of large telecommunications project in Belarus, aimed at connecting major educational and research institutions.

Unibel phone 375-172-206134

E-mail address: admin@unibel.by

Sovam Teleport
Sovam's official name is "Teleport - Scientific Communicational Centre". It was created by joint Russian- American-British company Sovam Teleport and the National Institute of Education of the Republic of Belarus. In Russia Sovam has the reputation of a very reliable communication company.

Sovam service fees are extremely high in Minsk, being about 22 cent per minute of network access (plus traffic cost, if working in the on-line mode), because the BelPack communication lines are used (now through Sprint).

Despite some difficulties, Sovam Teleport employees provide maximum support for its users.

Sovam Teleport office: 375-172-264560

E-mail address: minskadm@sovam.com

TRANSINFORM
TransInform gives access to the Russian GlasNet network. This network works in the on-line access mode and is aimed mainly toward individuals and emerging non-profit organizations in the CIS.

This net charges mainly for the access time. The fee is about 2-3 cents per minute in Moscow. It is about 20 cents in Minsk, because the connection is going through the switchboard of TransInform - an intermediate company. TransInform assigns GlasNet addresses. It is costs (with an advance) about $100 to open a mail box . Discounts are possible for non-profit and educational organizations.

TransInform services are becoming more professional with the increasing transfer speed and an opportunity to connect to the Internet through the GlasNet.

TransForm telephone in Minsk 375-172-964086

E-mail address: minvolk@glas.apc.org

FidoNet
Fidonet is a free-of-charge system. BBSs are main Fidonet nodes.

It is possible to become a Fidonet user by an agreement with a BBS system operator. This net exists due to enthusiasm of above mentioned system operators and computer companies, supporting the Fido viability. Information transfer reliability shifts very widely and it has a very low speed for international mailing. An pportunity to receive mail from the Internet is very limited.

Simplicity and "underground" charm of the Fidonet attracts mainly beginners


Prices

Comparative services' fees for main Belarusan nets:
CostBelpakUnibelGlasNet-BYTransInformSovamSprint
Open account$17$5*,$8**,$8***$9*,$6**,$9***$100$110(online),$20*$150
Monthly payment$2$5$6$2$12 ($5)$10
Receive information in the CIS (KBytes)$0.022-0.057$0.00$0.00-0.03$0.00$0.00-0.02$0.00
Send information to the CIS (KBytes)$0.022-0.057$0.02$0.03$0.00$0.02$0.05
Receive/send information abroad (out of the CIS) (KBytes)$0.057$0.05$0.03$0.00$0.05$0.85
Payment for access time (min.)$0$0$0.01-0.015$0.2$0.22$16/hour
Internet Accessavialable (text mode)available $3/hourlocal availableavailable $12/houravailable $13/houravailable (e-mail)
Number of users<500<300<50<50<50<150

Total of users: <1100 (!!!)
* - first number, users "off-line", second - terminal, third - SLIP
** - first number "off-line", second -"on-line"


Major Telecommunication Problems in Belarus

1) Limited networking possibilities ( a small range of services, bad technical support, etc.)

2) High prices due to the state monopoly. It has been officially announced that the state is going to become the owner of all the means of communication.

3) Underdeveloped infrastructure for information access (While Internet aims to provide equal access to information for people in different parts of the world, all of the Belarusian information services are concentrated in Minsk,the capital of Belarus).

4) The general population does not have enough information about Internet and there is only a very small number of users.

5) Belarusan networks often use out-of-date technology, and if we do not change this tradition, Belarusan networking will constantly lay behind, which will certainly influence service prices and general accessebility.

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