Internet and e-commerce industry in Belarus

Belarus is the country Internet and e-commerce of which we are to study today. Belarus, that has capital in Minsk, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Most of the Belarusian economy remains government-controlled, and has been described as "Soviet-style." Currently, Belarus has enjoyed strong consistent economic growth despite significant government involvement. Obviously, this fact has also reflected in the development of national telecommunications market.

Despite, Internet infrastructure has shown rapid deployment over the recent years, a great part of the country remains underdeveloped. That's mainly reasoned by the huge share of government ownership in the sector, that is the part of the general economy estimated to be 75% state owned.

Broadband Internet connection is delivered via ADSL, cable and wireless broadband and now account for approximately half of all Internet connections in the country.

Broadcasting is available via IPTV, cable and terrestrial TV platforms. Being a part of a government initiative digital TV availability is expanding as part to ensure universal coverage by 2015. The variety of fixed-line services are mainly offered by the incumbent operator Beltelecom, which has improved network capacity and international Internet bandwidth to support bandwidth-intensive services such as broadband Internet access and broadband TV. Moreover, Rostelecom_logo_en.jpgBeltelecom holds exclusive interconnection with internet providers outside of Belarus. Beltelecom owns all the backbone channels which are linked to Tata Communications (former Teleglobe), Synterra and Rostelecom Internet services providers.

Interestingly, until 2005-2006 broadband access (mostly via ADSL) was only available in a few large cities in Belarus. In the capital, Minsk, there were a dozen of privately owned ISPs and in some other big cities the incumbent's broadband service was available. In other regions of the country, Internet was only available via Beltelecom or GPRS/cdma2000 from mobile operators.

In 2006 Beltelecom introduced a new trademark Byfly for its ADSL access. Other ISPs also started expanding their networks outside of Minsk.

Importantly, in a move to stimulate retail broadband take up Beltelecom managed to reduce the cost of wholesale data lines.

Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for Belarus is .by, administered by the State Center of the Information Security of the President of the Republic of Belarus. .by, created in 1994, originates from an alternative spelling of Belarus, Byelorussia, which was used during their inclusion in the Soviet Union. .by domain name replaced the Soviet domain of .su.

The costs of .by domain use is a $45 fee for the first year of the registration and second payment of $35 to maintain the domain.

Second-level domain registration is also available. Importantly, the names that are chosen for the second level domains must not conflict with those already registered or well known companies. The names also must have two or more Latin characters and it cannot either start or finish with a hyphen.

As for the third-level registration, like and are only offered to those who are government officials.

It's important to note, "Belorussian Internet" is widely called ByNet (as an analogue of Runet).

In terms of Internet penetration, Belarus has shown enormous growth of over 1600% for the decade. However, in comparison with European leaders, Belarus, can't boast about the high level of Internet usage, with slightly over 32% or 3,106,900 Belarusians connected.

As it has been said already, government plays an important role in the development of ICT sector. Thus, e-belarus.ORG was created. e-belarus.ORG represents an independent think tank on ICT developments, e-government and e-democracy in Belarus. The web site conducts analysis, surveys and advices on trends and specific issues regarding government, political activism and technology.

Turning to e-commerce sector, it's important to underline, that e-commerce sector in Belarus has reflected four times growth in 2010 compared to the previous year. In 2009 the volume of total e-commerce revenues in Belarus has made up over $1.3 billion.

As for today, over 2,000 Internet shops are operating successfully in Belarus.These online shops present the widest variety of services and goods. The majority of them are operating on the large portals, like, Most of the stores represent SMEs or businessmen. The large trading nets don't trade online, though most of them have their own portals.

According to the statistics data, 95% of all the online payment s are accomplished for the services and only 5% for goods.

According to Priorbank February statistics data, 25% of all the online payments for goods are devoted to software and online games, 23% - purchasing and sending flowers, 22% - all kinds of entertainment tickets, 12% - spares trading, 9% - lottery tickets, 7% - food, 2% - others.

Having Internet boom started in early 2000s, Belarus sees its ICT market deploying rapidly, with great number of new Internet and related services launched as well as e-commerce sites and auctions created. Thus, increasing number of businesses in Belarus are being involved in online trading.


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