Russian Leapfrog

Russia is a fascinating market: The “triple whammy” of rapidly rising wealth, a high degree of urbanisation (73% of the population live in cities) and the rapid rollout of next-generation network technologies means that the market for broadband delivery of digital media is set to explode (and that’s before factoring in those long Russian Winter nights).

The late – relative to Western Europe and North America – ramp-up of the infrastructure investment curve means that Russian service providers are leapfrogging the technologies which most of us regard as state-of-the-art and which Western operators are still having to amortise: so rather than DSL, Russia is going Metro Ethernet; instead of Wi-Fi hotspots, Russian cities are getting WiMax networks and DVB-H services and the likelihood is that, when Russia’s first 3G licenses are let in early 2007, Russian operators will go straight to fast 3.5G technologies such as HSDPA.

All of which makes for a very interesting environment, which is why I’m very pleased indeed to be working with Russia’s largest film and TV distributor, the Cascade/BUR Media group, to help them plan their way through the myriad opportunities that are becoming available to them as digital delivery becomes a natural extension of their presence in physical and broadcast media.

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