Mr. Polyakov, how long does Mostcom exist? How did the idea of promotion of this type of communication originate in the minds of several people?
Are you really interested in it?
I don’t even know how to start. Globally speaking, “the idea” was born in June 1959, when the order on the establishment of SRI “Plasma” was signed. By the by, I was born in the same year (what a coincidence!), and my parents were co-founders of “Plasma”. Naturally, I began my work there, and my first acquaintance with lasers took place was there too. I stayed on “Plasma” until the early 90’s, when I met Sergey Shirobakin, and then our first export operations began. At about the same time, I retrained as a leading economist. There were fashionable themes with a business-plans, and our company bought the program Project Export, to calculate financial flows. I quickly figured out with it and work began to boil. Then GRPZ (Ryazan State Instrument-Making Enterprize) appeared, we made several business-plans for it, and I met Yuri Zelenyuk, technical director.
So in 1997, when there a was a lack of purchases, me and mister Shirobakin sat down on the bench, lit up “Belomor”, and he said, “What if we start to make laser links?”. Shortly before, he met with some Novosibirsk researchers, they told him about the ease of this technology, and Sergey was bewitched by the idea. At that time the cost price of one link was 20$. I came to Mr. Zelenyuk, he purchased business plan “Telephones installations in the Ryazan region based on the services of the GRPZ” and we started to make the first prototype. It should be noted that we did not know any basic concepts, such as the “interface”, so we made our device at hazard. Then our old friend Alexey Parshin, a master of creation from nothing, came, and we made it – two black boxed, in the first one there was a laser and a tape player, in the second one was an amplifier. The demonstration was just marvelous! We commuted link, pushed the “play” – it started to play, we put a hand on the laser line – the music stopped.
We didn’t even know such a word – presentation! Despite this, the decision was delayed until March 1998. I wrote the contract on modernization, specification, and – I remember the day – 10th April of 1998 – it was signed. What’s next? We sat down in my house, and made calculations, three copybooks, 48 pages each.
Whose practices did you use, Russian or foreign ones?
Our own! We were assured that our project was the first in the world, and there was no one before us.
The real disaster appeared in August 1998, when there was a default in Russia. Thanks to Zelenyuk, he agreed to change the currency from rubles to dollars, thus, we, in fact, saved our project. We never thought about risk, it was just drive. In November we managed to start factory production, printing boards, etc. In early spring of 1999 we got our first models, and in May we came to our first Expocom exhibition. Our first example there was just a mess – yellow barrel, four receivers, one transmitter in the middle. The funniest thing was when the professionals asked me “What’s the interface here?” I proudly told “There is no interface, everything you’ll put on one side, you’ll on the other. What can I say? We were young and naïve. In 2000 we made the second model and marked it as “MOST 100\500”
How did the name MOST appear?
One of our technicians, Ivchuk made it. In Russian MOST – Multiple Optical System for Telecom. 100\500 – 100 Mbps on 500 m. On that time it was significant numbers. As part of this project, we have passed two or three contracts with the GRPZ…
Could you remember, who was the first buyer?
It was in Mytishchi, in the early 2000’s and it was E1 series. There was some certain construction features, which we improved quickly.
The year of 2001 began from new type of contract – we came to the next level with the help of my brother, who invested in our business, so in the beginning 2001 Mostcom as company began its fruitful work.
The name Mostcom – is it about MOST model?
Yes, MOST – as a bridge, and COM – as communication.
How many clients did you have on that time?
Honestly speaking, I don’t remember. The question of clients was always on the other side of the hill for me, as developer. It was always good for us to create something good and useful, and if it can be sold – good.
What did you do after Mostcom creation?
There were three main types of working – development, technical maintenance and repair. Shortly after 2001 we got big purchase from Moscow on 30 lines from one of our ministries. And then it goes and goes and in 2005 we suddenly realized that we completely got the principle of Free-Space Optics. As general director I was completely happy – my role was only to coordinate our genius of commerce, technical and development, to direct their energy in right direction .
In what place the heart of Mostcom started to beat?
Ah, it’s the brightest example of the proverb “from dirt to the Kings”! We started from a little room on Moscow avenue, a flat, a small working place and now we here in huge three-story office.
When did the MOSTCOM start the export?
As far as I remember, the first one was in 2003. By that time, we already had a website. And suddenly the inquiry from Argentina came! The first shipment was with the help of GRPZ, and I was annoyed by this procedure because of long bureaucratic measures. They told about better quality for export, individual tags, etc… total mess. Export permission receiving was about half-year, but all in all we made it. And then came businessmen from the USA, Israel, Germany, South Korea… International delegations almost every month! Personally meetings at the airports, translators… That was really good experience!
When did you realized that stationary terminals is not a limit?
Touching up – not a limit, it’s outdated technology. With the coming of free-range networks, I suppose. WI-FI technologies and so on… There is no need to deal with stabilization system and other difficulties. So these technologies killed the wireless optical links.
And how the space and underwater systems appeared on Mostcom horizon?
On a conference in Moscow we met a grandson of famous Russian writer Korney Chukovsky, he told us about this very idea. Along with that we started to develop mobile terminals for subway trains…
… And then came Skolkovo?
Yes, in 2010 we prepared the project, Boris was a firebrand in this case. We prepared the document and send it to Skolkovo on grant. There were two attempts, first one was with our M2 link. One of the grant main criteria – the market should be no less than one billion dollars, and we screwed it up.
Then we got back to Space terminals, and from 2014 we began to develop it.
Like in the 90’s? First in the world?
No, this time it was grief from mind. We realized that we are not the only developers, but we also knew that we can do the best one.
The question of market was important too – who needs gigabytes in space? And the beam – it is so narrow, try not to miss with it! Then we found this program for the satellite group connection, and thought “That’s it!”. So the space idea became more fruitful than stationary terminals upgrade, as you can see.
What’s next? Development, improvement, creation of something new or all at once?
The main strategic goal – to make Mostcom an eternal company. Like Philips, Siemens, etc. It’s the goal of my life – Mostcom heartbeat shouldn’t stop after mine.
Within this goal, we can distinguish three tactical aim. The first one – is to finish the building of factory for stationary terminals in Czech Republic with our partners. The second – is to finish the development of the space terminals for satellite group. The idea is awesome and I believe in it with all my heart. Isn’t it great when within a second you can make a print from every part of the world? And the third one is mobile terminals for moving objects. We still looking for the partners both in Russia and abroad. The rest – as for the underwater terminals – well, we’ll see how it goes. It is more complicated environment, but if there will be a talent, a crazy man, who believes in it – we can help, go on. After all, the world is not enough for the ideas of the humanity.