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Digital world becomes essential part of Russians’ reality

The Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge (ISSEK) of the National Research University ̵ Higher School of Economics (HSE) prepared the fifth analytical report Internet Development Trends: From Digital Opportunities to a Digital Reality as part of a series of annual reviews of internet development trends, commissioned by the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ. Its theme reflects the growing role of digital technologies in all areas of economic and social life amid the pandemic.

The report is based on the latest data for 2020 and the first six months of 2021 as well as middle-term forecasts. It uses figures issued by the Federal Service for State Statistics (Rosstat), the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, the Bank of Russia, and the Technical Center of Internet, as well as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Eurostat, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and other agencies, international organizations and companies, plus ISSEK’s own calculations. The research focused on four main areas: the “anatomy” of the internet (domain space, telecommunications infrastructure, network security), the internet for the economy (digitalization of the economic and social sectors, e-commerce), the internet for society (population on the internet, digital skills and professional activity), and internet development trends.

The results of the research show rapid growth in the volume of internet traffic: in 2020, mobile traffic increased on average to 12.9 GB/month per subscriber, and fixed traffic went up to 153.9 GB/month.

In 2020, the Russian internet audience grew two percent. Almost 90 percent of Russians have used the internet at least once, and 76.7 percent of Russians go online daily.

Internet users face cyber threats more often. Over the last five years, the number of registered crimes committed with ICT in Russia has gone up elevenfold, according to the Prosecutor General's Office. These crimes totaled 750,000 in 2020 (+73 percent compared with last year). Almost every third internet user (29.1 percent) over 15 years old faced various cybersecurity risks.

The Russian domain name market shows steady demand for the country-code top-level domains. In 2020, .RU, with a total of five million domains, strengthened its position in the top 10 TLDs (eighth), while .РФ (with 711,800 domains) leads among Cyrillic domains and consistently makes it into the top 20 country-code domains in Europe.

The authors of the research discussed internet development trends, looking back at when the internet was regarded as an “opportunity” and considering the new reality that has arisen during the Covid-19 pandemic. They also highlighted key trends of the third decade of the 21st century, when a digital reality began to form in the global network and information became the most important factor in production.

Andrey Vorobyev, Director of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ: “We’ve collaborated with ISSEK for five years now. This cooperation has resulted in a series of analytical reports on internet development trends. Today we are releasing the fifth issue. Thanks to the report, we can assess the current state of the global network as well as Runet indicators, trace the evolution of the internet in retrospect and assess possible development areas of our industry in the future until 2030. This summer, the Coordination Center celebrated its 20th anniversary, and an expert review of our organization's activities over the years was featured in the fifth report.”

Leonid Gokhberg, First Deputy Rector, Director of the HSE Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge: “Over the five years of our cooperation with the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ, we have managed to form a strong foundation for a comprehensive study of key aspects related to internet development and the digital economy in Russia. When preparing the reports, we rely primarily on national and international statistics, which allows us to carry out cross-country comparisons on various indicators, as well as on our own calculations. In recent years, the iFORA big data mining system developed at the HSE ISSEK has become an important quantitative analysis tool for us. It radically improves the reliability, speed and accuracy of the results, whether we are assessing trends or forecasting new emerging markets.

The full version of the analytical report Internet Development Trends: From Digital Opportunities to a Digital Reality can be found on the website of the Coordination Center for TLD .RU/.РФ.

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