Cellular networks and Wi-Fi have caught up in terms of traffic in Russia, and the latter will only increase their share. By 2035, Wi-Fi networks will provide up to 70% of wireless traffic in Russia, and the remaining 30% will fall on cellular networks, according to the draft Strategy for the Development of the Communications Industry in the Russian Federation for 2024-2035, Vedomosti writes.
The document is being developed by the government on behalf of the President of the country – more than 300 experts are involved in the project, including specialists from telecom operators, industry associations and state corporations. It should be approved by the end of the year, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko said back in March. Work on the document continues, adjustments are being made, and in June it will have to be defended before the Prime Minister. After that, possible comments will be finalized, and the strategy will be presented to the president.
The strategy states that by the end of 2022, the volumes of Wi-Fi traffic and cellular networks have reached a comparable level. “WiFi access is gradually winning the competition for traffic with mobile networks, and fixed broadband access remains the main channel for Internet access,” the document says, although absolute numbers are not given. Between 2012 and 2022 the total volume of traffic in Russia jumped more than 11 times – from 11.1 to 123.78 EB per year with an average annual growth of 27%, while in 2022 the positive dynamics was 18%.
Traffic passing through public, corporate and home Wi-Fi networks is approximately equal to mobile, experts interviewed by Vedomosti agree – many citizens connect gadgets to home or work wireless access networks. The development of Wi-Fi in the country is facilitated by rising prices for cellular communications, as well as the expansion of coverage of wireless networks in public places, in transport and in organizations – in 2022, the number of public access points increased by 3% and reached 191 thousand. At the same time, mobile networks either ceased to develop, or degraded altogether.
The most important obstacle to the development of cellular networks is a significant shortage of radio frequency resources – in Moscow it reaches 50% at a rate of 20-30%. For comparison, in Beijing it is 14%, and in New York – 26%. During the construction of networks at state and municipal property, the access of operators’ employees to equipment is limited, in addition, “economically unjustified” prices for its placement are set, the document says. Given the lack of domestic equipment, by 2030 the quality of mobile services may deteriorate.
At the same time, the demand for mobile traffic continues to grow – the construction of 5G networks could satisfy it, but it is also hampered by three factors: the lack of frequencies for operators, the lack of equipment, and excessive SanPiN requirements. Therefore, one should really expect an increase in Wi-Fi traffic, experts suggest, although with cheap mobile tariffs, many subscribers would prefer not to use local wireless access at all.
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