Telegram Premium is Coming

Telegram will soon start setting some features after a paywall. In a post on the forum, founder Pavel Durov revealed that the messaging service is establishing a paid Telegram Premium subscription this month, offering users “additional features, speed, and resources.”

The subscription could allow users to upload larger files and gain early access to new features.

Durov hints at some of the features of the subscription, including early entry to new features, the capacity to upload larger files, and Premium-only stickers and responses.

But Durov also makes it clear that Telegram’s existing features will stay free and that the paid features won’t affect the experience for free users on the app. Non-subscribers will still get to look at the larger files uploaded by Premium users and will also get to view and interact with Premium stickers and reactions.

As Durov explains, a Premium subscription should help the service mitigate some of the costs associated with bumping up what Durov calls the “already crazy” limits on file sizes, chats, and media ó something Durov says would be “unmanageable” if offered to all users. A paid subscription has been in the works for a while, with Durov first mentioning the possibility in 2020.

Although the full range of Premium features is still unclear, it looks like the subscription will cater to Telegram’s power users, sort of like the way Twitter Blue brings additional features to the people who use the app the most. Data gathered from the app’s beta version suggests it will cost $4.99 / month and come with voice-to-text messages, faster downloads, tools to customize your chats, and more.

The beta also indicates Premium users won’t have ads in one-to-many channels, something Durov introduced last year. It is in line with Durov’s previous promise that he would give users a way to turn ads off, though it looks like you might have to pay to gain access.

Durov doesn’t seem to have plans to expand ads beyond public channels, despite the initiative being “more successful” than he initially thought. “I believe that Telegram should be funded primarily by its users, not advertisers,”

Durov says in his post. “This way, our users will always remain our main priority.” But, of course, this outlook probably also depends on whether Telegram can entice a large enough chunk of its more than 500 million users to buy into Premium.

Telegram is a freeware, cloud-based, cross-platform instant messaging (IM) service. The service also delivers end-to-end encrypted video calling, file sharing, VoIP, and other features. It was pitched for iOS on 14 August 2013 and Android on 20 October 2013.

Telegram servers are distributed worldwide with five data centers in different regions, while the operations center is established in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Diverse client apps are available for desktop and mobile platforms, including official iOS, Windows, Android, macOS, and Linux (although registration needs an iOS or Android device and a working phone number).

There are also official Telegram web twin apps, WebK and WebZ, and numerous unofficial clients that use Telegram’s protocol. All of the Telegram’s official components are open source, except the server, which is closed-source and proprietary.

Telegram delivers optional end-to-end encrypted chats. Cloud conversations and groups are encrypted between the app and the server so that ISPs and third parties on the grid can’t access data, but the Telegram server can. In addition, users can make voice and video calls, send text and voice messages, and share unlimited images, user locations, documents (2 GB per file), animated stickers, contacts, and audio files.

Users can also pursue channels that have been used by celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and politicians: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Moldova Maia Sandu, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others.

In January 2021, Telegram exceeded 500 million monthly active users. In addition, it was the most downloaded app in January 2021, with 1 billion downloads globally as of late August 2021.

Telegram was pitched in 2013 by the brothers Nikolai and Pavel Durov. Previously, the pair launched the Russian social network VK, which they left in 2014, saying President Putin’s allies had taken it over. Pavel Durov marketed his remaining stake in VK and left Russia after defying government pressure.

Nikolai Durov created the MTProto protocol that is the basis for the messenger, while Pavel Durov delivered financial support and infrastructure through his Digital Fortress fund. Telegram Messenger states that its end goal is not to bring profit but is not structured as a non-profit organization.

Telegram is documented as a company in the British Virgin Islands and as an LLC in Dubai. However, it does not disclose where it rents offices or which legal entities it uses to rent them, citing the need to “shelter the team from unnecessary influence” and protect users from governmental data requests.

After Pavel Durov left Russia in 2014, he was said to be moving from country to country with a small group of computer programmers consisting of 15 core members.

While a former employee of VK claimed that Telegram had employees in Saint Petersburg, Pavel Durov said that the Telegram team made Berlin, Germany, its headquarters in 2017 but failed to obtain German residence permits for everyone on the team and moved to other jurisdictions in early 2015. Since 2017, the company has been based in Dubai.

Telegram apps receive monthly updates. In addition, users can report apps’ issues and recommend development ideas on the dedicated “Bugs and Suggestions” platform. Telegram’s default method of authentication for logins is SMS-based single-factor authentication.

A one-time passcode sent via SMS to the user’s phone number is required to log into the account by default. Users also have the option to create a password as a form of two-step verification. In addition, Telegram allows groups, bots, and channels with a verified social media or Wikipedia page to be confirmed but not user accounts.