Russia, June 14, 1999
Those bits and bytes are everywhere!Today I am in Toglatti, Russia's version of Detroit, where the AvtoVaz factory produces over 50% of the cars sold in Russia. Tomorrow I am to leave for the birthplace of Lenin, Olyanysk, but I am a little sad.
After searching for the last few days, in a number of cities along the Volga, I've finally found an Internet access point where I can surf at the speed I am accustomed to: fast.
How most Russians surf
Actually, I should just be thankful I can access the net at all. Russia didn't have many computers and no Internet a few years ago. The technology has dispersed throughout this part of the country pretty fast and with decent results.
Ok, so the connections are usually numbingly slow, nothing close to the 55k/cable modems I've heard about in the states, and the computers are not always modern, I saw a IBM 286 (remember those?) chugging away at email the other day, but at least there is an internet here.
It may not be for long though. The Russian FSB (the domestic successor to the KGB), is starting to enforce a law where internet service providers have to give the FSB unlimited access to all emails and websites going in and out of each server, and more harmfully, the ISP's are required to supply the computers and the training for the FSB to do so!
Until that day, I'm gonna be happy with the odd setups I find on my way, like this spot. Two computers sitting at the bottom of a stairwell in a Russian "mall", available for $2 an hour. Great price for the speed!