Today, with physical/social distancing in society dramatically increased, providing tens of millions of our customers with reliable connectivity and communications services has become our special mission. We have invested significant effort in adapting our services to customer needs, including by helping people to maintain their social connections as much as possible.
Free products and services
MTS has launched a number of special offers and free services to help people better organize their life and leisure in self-isolation. In particular, users of home internet and cable or satellite TV were able to continue consuming all these services even when they run out of credit, and also benefited from free access to dozens of TV channels. In addition, we have zero rated outgoing and incoming calls to relevant helplines and hotlines set up for the public, as well as to airline office numbers from anywhere in the world. For customers staying abroad, we have also zero rated text messaging to Russian numbers to help them stay connected to their families and friends.
For a token amount of just one ruble, MTS has offered customers of any operator access to a new bundle of digital services, including digital television (TV) and sports, reading and music applications – MTS Fitness, MTS Library and MTS Music – as well as our SmartMed telemedicine app providing an easy way for anyone to get an urgent consultation online with a GP on duty or a specialist doctor from a MEDSI clinic. MTS has also zero rated traffic to popular educational platforms, as well as resources relating to culture or arts.
Support for entrepreneurs
All businesses that did not previously use #CloudMTS, our cloud remote corporate data storage and sharing service, have been offered two months free access. MTS Bank has cancelled fees for existing and new customers who are small businesses or individual entrepreneurs for interbank transfers to current accounts of legal entities or individual entrepreneurs under all cash management programs, as well as for transfers to accounts of retail payroll customers. MTS has also launched Mneblizko, an interactive map showing operating small businesses. The project allows entrepreneurs to detail the services they currently offer and helps consumers to find out which cafes and stores continue to operate in their local vicinity and learn the details of using their services. The map was designed to support entrepreneurs who are now required to work in a new way, e.g. shift to home delivery of food and ready meals or offer exercise or learning classes online.
Relevant social initiatives
In addition, we have launched multiple social initiatives to support people in Russia through the lockdown. We have opened a free hotline to offer psychological help to Muscovites, available to everyone who needs professional advice from volunteer psychologists. To help graduating high school seniors (grade 11) prepare for the Unified State Exam during the distance learning period, MTS has developed free online crash courses. In addition, students in grades 5 to 11 were able to practice speaking English for free in conversation clubs accessible via our SmartUniversity app.
MTS teamed up with the Russian Schoolchildren’s Movement to launch the nationwide #VSkazkuIzDoma children’s project with support from Russia’s Ministry of Culture. A free audio fairytale hotline and a major reader contest were launched under the guidance of Russian celebrities for children under 14. Over one month since launch, the project volunteers received 50,000 calls from across Russia, with children and their parents spending a total of 3,870 hours (or about five months) listening to fairytales. As part of other social projects (primarily the Generation M project), MTS has organized a number of online activities to help children focus more on creative development during this period. We are supporting online master classes hosted by the State Tretyakov Gallery, virtual tours of the gallery rooms, online auditions and interviews of applicants to the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts (GITIS), etc.
Support for COVID-19 response
MTS has already allocated almost RUB 1 billion to fight COVID-19 – providing not only free access to its solutions, medical and educational services for the public, but also assistance to doctors and healthcare institutions, regional communities and volunteers helping elderly people. Together with Sistema Charitable Foundation, we provided free COVID-19 tests to regional hospitals. We have also provided doctors on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic with free connection for three months and a reduced tariff beyond this period. MTS is also involved in the Folding@home global project focused on searching for a COVID-19 medicine, providing cloud resources to model the novel virus mechanism.
Our employee volunteers have joined the We Are Together project, manning its hotline and advising callers on purchases and deliveries of medicines and essential goods. MTS is supporting volunteers from other organizations by providing necessary equipment to volunteer centers. Training courses for older generations have also been launched to help elderly people to learn to get online medical advice, order home delivery of products and request public services without leaving home.