15 february 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov

Mr Putin and Mr Ivanov discussed the creation of and main stages for introducing the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). The two leaders emphasised the need to commercialise the system.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Ivanov, today I would like to discuss an issue that we have touched on many times recently, in one way or another. I'm talking about our plans for establishing the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS). This high-tech and innovative project has tremendous significance for our country, both economically and for strengthening our defence capability.

I would like to note that we are absolutely competitive in this area, and that our work is on schedule or even ahead of schedule. We have even overtaken recognised leaders in this field, such as our European partners.

We began developing analogous systems at practically the same time. To the best of my knowledge, they currently have two satellites in orbit, while we have already deployed 21 satellites, which is enough to cover the entire Russian Federation. And we should launch another six satellites in 2010. Consequently, our system will become truly global. However, in order for our system to be effective, it must be cost-effective.

We must actively introduce the vehicular components - on land, air and sea vehicles and on trains - of the system. But this is not enough. Regional and municipal governments, leaders of various levels, must realise the advantages of introducing this system.

To be frank, I want regions and municipal entities to hear you and me, so that the leaders of these entities realise that the introduction of this system is a nationwide objective that effectively can only be accomplished with their support. Municipal vehicles, medical vehicles, police vehicles and vehicles owned by the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief will all be equipped with GLONASS receivers.

Installing this system in vehicles owned by the City of Ufa immediately cut fuel consumption by 20%. There are other advantages, and we must consistently facilitate the introduction of GLONASS all over the Russian Federation. You and I realise that otherwise we will prove unable to continue funding this system through the federal budget. GLONASS must be commercialised. We must accomplish this objective.

Sergei Ivanov: Mr Putin, may I say a few words about the current situation in this field?

On the subject of federal executive bodies, the Ministry of Transport and all government agencies, including the Federal Air Transport Agency and the Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport and Russian Railways, have already installed tens of thousands of ground-based receivers on federal government vehicles. The Ministry of Defence has installed about 20,000 operational receivers on its military vehicles.

The Ministry of the Interior has started actively buying such equipment. This has allowed them to solve crimes more quickly after they are committed. As you have correctly noted, all federal or regional executive bodies have drastically reduced petrol consumption and vehicle maintenance costs by at least 20%, or even more in some cases.

Russia is a large country with many regions and, as always, the situation is different in different areas. Tatarstan, the Kaluga Region, the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Bashkortostan are now actively introducing GLONASS, which is virtually operational there.

The system works most effectively when GLONASS receivers are installed on municipal vehicles, police vehicles, ambulances, vehicles owned by the Ministry of Civil Defence, Emergencies and Disaster Relief, fire engines and vehicles from a number of other emergency services.

Moreover, GLONASS is being actively installed on new, complicated and dangerous facilities, including large bridges. We have already shown you this in Krasnoyarsk. The bridge linking Vladivostok with Russky Island is equipped with such sensors in accordance with mandatory regulations. This quickly has a huge impact as far as dams and hydro-technical facilities concerns.

However, I cannot say that everything is perfect.

I don't doubt the fact that we will fulfil all the plans, and that a full-scale satellite constellation that serves the entire world will be operational by late 2010. But the production of ground-based user's receivers is proceeding more slowly. Frankly speaking, this is connected with the considerable lag of our microelectronics industry.

But we are also taking action in this field. As you know, I am heading an inter-departmental working group for GLONASS, and we discuss such issues each month. Our microelectronics industry is expected to begin producing so-called chipsets, which will enable us to manufacture household equipment, including mobile cellular telephones, GLONASS ‘palmtops' and ground-based receivers for private cars. Such equipment can compete with Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers in terms of pricing and specifications. Naturally, we must commercialise GLONASS, and we are striving to do this.

This is a tremendous market. As soon as we enter this market, the benefits of GLONASS will become apparent not just for government bodies. We would like to enlist your support for dealing with the regions more sternly, because some regions understand the concept and are actively introducing the system, while others are reacting in a restrained manner.

Vladimir Putin: Let's say we now have two stages. Introducing GLONASS at the regional and municipal level is the first stage. Here we must emphasise the product's consumer-friendly nature, rather than try to "deal more sternly".. The second stage is the switchover to complete commercialisation at the household level, due to be carried out in late 2010.

Sergei Ivanov: Mr Putin, we have good prospects as far as international cooperation for GLONASS, primarily with India and Kazakhstan, both large countries, in terms of both the market and our cooperation. I hope that, instead of merely signing various documents and inter-governmental agreements (which have already been signed), we will develop the necessary equipment and jointly introduce GLONASS in these countries.

Vladimir Putin: I will pay a working visit to India in early March. Quite possibly, we will discuss this issue with our Indian partners.

Sergei Ivanov: This is a major aspect of our high-tech cooperation with India.

Vladimir Putin: We will make this work. And I am asking you not to overlook this aspect.