Change is inevitable: The future of Runet

Change is inevitable: The future of Runet

The future of the Russian Internet was discussed on June 16 at the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Change is inevitable: The future of Runet

Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Maksut Shadayev, CEO of Kaspersky Lab Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of VK Vladimir Kirienko, CEO of Skillbox Dmitry Krutov, and Executive Director of the Association of Communication Agencies of Russia Valentin Smolyakov were panelists at the “Structural Change: A New Path for Russian Internet” session. Director of RAEC Sergey Plugotarenko moderated the discussion.

Maksut Shadayev began his speech by saying that in the last three months, the mobile traffic structure has changed dramatically in Russia. Although YouTube still ranks first, accounting for a stable 18 % of the traffic of the “Big Four” operators, the number of visitors of other previously popular social networks has been decreasing. For example, while in January and February TikTok accounted for 12 % of the traffic, now its share does not exceed 10 %. And it is not surprising, since although TikTok is not blocked, it has suspended new video uploads from Russia. Also, Russian users cannot view content from outside the country.

The traffic to blocked social networks (i.e., Instagram, Facebook and Twitter) that previously accounted for 10–12 % has decreased almost fivefold; only 20 % of users continue accessing these platforms with a VPN. Telegram and VK have benefited from the blockage. The Telegram’s share in the mobile traffic structure has grown more than twofold and exceeded 6 %. Meanwhile, the share of WhatsApp, its main competitor, is not increasing and remains at less than 2 %. The VK’s share has increased by more than one-third and now exceeds 10 %, which makes this social network the second most popular service.

For his part, Vladimir Kirienko pointed out that the VK company had been able to adapt quickly and successfully to the new circumstances and launch new services as the number of users had suddenly grown enormously. “During the first months we observed a rapid increase in user base. What we’d like to highlight is that the users of our services are staying with us long. We’ve got new users, and we’ve got an increase in time spent on our social media. We’ve also managed to increase infrastructure capacity. The second challenge has been to introduce new services. We launched many new products over a short period of time. Also, speaking of games, which is a very important area for us, we saw empty niches and launched the VK Play service. The key challenge is to make accessible, high-quality services that would be well-loved indeed,” he added.

“Since February, the number of regular cyberattacks on Russian resources has decreased by 20 %,” Eugene Kaspersky said. However, the number of complex targeted cyberattacks has increased dramatically. Mr. Kaspersky added that Russian cybersecurity experts had learned to work under extreme conditions and successfully tackle the most complicated cases. In the future, the emphasis will be placed on building optional security systems and protecting enterprises and critical infrastructure. “Thanks to all who’ve left. It has allowed us to plug [security] holes we had,” he said, hinting that Kaspersky Lab is now working on a new operating system.

Dmitry Krutov pointed out that the demand for coding courses as a form of continuing education has increased significantly. “An IT specialization makes a person professionally insubmergible and guarantees high income. Python and Java products have grown. We produce a lot of IT experts who are in great demand right now. It is also worth noting that only a small number of IT experts have left the country. What’s important for us now is to collaborate with universities, with the Digital Ministry the right way. We’ve seen that the ministry has played a huge role in IT business processes. The next important step is to launch the Russian digital professional orientation project. We need to determine who should be taught first,” CEO of Skillbox said.

The SPIEF is held from 15 to 18 June in St. Petersburg. The primary audience of the forum are heads of major Russian and foreign companies, heads of states and political leaders, heads of governments, deputy prime ministers, ministers, and governors. Over the years, the forum has become a leading global platform allowing members of the business community to meet and discuss the key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets, and the world as a whole.

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