Own analytical articles of "SV-consulting", LLC.

Wi-Fi in Ukraine - what's next?

Probably, Wi-Fi technology was one of the most successful over the last decade and Wi-Fi networks have become very popular. Especially rapidly has increased the number of connections over Wi-Fi when manufacturers started producing smartphones and tablets, because in such case within coverage of Wi-Fi your terminal can be connected to the Internet with quite high speed access to view video or to download large files.
In this article we'll look how Wi-Fi develops in the world and Ukraine, and will focus on its perspectives. But firstly some history and facts about Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) networks use radio access technology 802.11, to ensure secure, reliable and fast wireless connectivity. Wi-Fi can be used to connect electronic devices to each other and to the Internet or Ethernet. Wi-Fi networks operate in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Moreover, some devices work in both bands (so-called Dual Band).

2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands are not licensed. This means that people can use the devices which work in these bands without a state license. At the same time, manufacturers must ensure that their products meet the interoperability standards set by the terms of Wi-Fi certification. Also, Wi-Fi devices share the above mentioned radio frequency band with devices of nongovernmental organizations and with other devices such as toys' remote controls, but certification tests ensure that all Wi-Fi devices are "good neighbors" and do not cause problems to each other during radio transmission.

As mentioned above, Wi-Fi devices according classification of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) belong to 802.11 group. To this number, depending on the particular technology, added a letter. For example, there are 802.11a, 802.11b, etc. Each group is defined by set of functions which define frequency and bandwidth. Each generation of Wi-Fi has also higher level of security then previous one, as well as other improvements.
To date have been released four generations of Wi-Fi devices (Table 1), but many of the standards, aimed to improve performance and security, are being developed.

Table 1. Wi-Fi generations

Wi-Fi technology

Frequency band

Bandwith

802.11a

5 GHz

54 Mbps

802.11b

2.4 GHz

11 Mbps

802.11g

2.4 GHz

54 Mbps

802.11n

2.4 GHz, 5 GHz,
2.4 or 5 GHz (as choosen), or
2.4 and 5 GHz (simultaniously)

450 Mbps

Using Wi-Fi networks, it is possible to transfer all types of data, ranging from sending e-mails to streaming video and international video conference calls from different places, such as a flying plane at an altitude of 10 km above the ground or from the office. Moreover, Wi-Fi devices have different configurations and cost ​​to satisfy the different needs of users.
But in order to achieve the current level of development of Wi-Fi, thousands companies, researchers and engineers made a lot of work.

n the mid 1990s, the international consortium of technical experts from technology companies began devloping through IEEE industry standards. Thanks to this collaboration Wi-Fi Alliance was created and now it checks and confirms that the product meets the standards for interoperability and security.

Anyone can use Wi-Fi virtually anywhere in the world. Wi-Fi products are easy to connect to each other. Wi-Fi Alliance has issued more than 12,500 certificates for devices that have been tested for compatibility. This means that they will not interfere with other devices. When you buy a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED product you can be sure that they have been checked for proper operation in a wireless network and contain the latest security features.

The use of Wi-Fi is virtually unlimited. Large corporations use it to extend wired networks in public places, such as conference rooms, halls etc. Wi-Fi networks are good decision for small businesses, providing connection between sellers and other staff.

However, sometimes arise debate that Wi-Fi networks can be dangerous to human health. But numerous scientific studies have not found evidences that low-power wireless networks are a direct threat to the health of people. Wi-Fi technologies meet all national and international safety requirements, and the power of radio signal is usually hundreds and thousands of times below international safety standards.

For example, the World Health Organization reviewed various studies and concluded that there are no convincing scientific evidences that the weak RF signals of wireless networks cause nefative effects on human health (more information at http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs304/en/index.html).

Also, in March 2007, University of Pennsylvania with financial support of Wi-Fi Alliance during an independent and comprehensive study mesured 55 Wi-Fi sites in four countries. The study showed that the power Wi-Fi well below the permissible level. In all cases, the measured power of Wi-Fi signal was well below international levels (IEEE C95.1-1992 and ICNIRP) and in almost all cases significantly below the other RF signals in the same environment (more information at http://hps.org/hpspublications/articles/wirelessnetworks.html).

According to some estimates, at least 250 million households worldwide use Wi-Fi. And there are schools, universities, businesses and so on. More and more often Wi-Fi technology is used in energy, transportation and health care. Nearly one billion Wi-Fi devices have been produced, and this technology is becoming an integral part of everyday life.

For exampe, chips for wireless networks with bandwidths greater than 1 Gbps (standard IEEE 802.11ac) are already on the market and routers and other network devices with such chips are available from the second half of 2012. With speeds more than three times faster than the current generation of Wi-Fi routers, the new devices will accelerate the synchronization between home devices and sgnificzntly improve the quality of streaming audio and video.

Standard 802.11ac which operates in 5 GHz band, has not been adopted yet ( it is expected to be adopted in December 2012), but routers with new chips will support both 802.11n and 802.11ac standards and will switch between them as needed.
However, not only 802.11ac gigabit wireless technology will enter the market. 60 GHz technology is been developed by Alience Wireless Gigabit (WiGig). The speed will reach up to 7 Gbps but only for short distances. These devices can potentially replace HDMI, other cables, but will work in the same room only, while 802.11ac routers will cover the entire house or apartment.

802.11ac technology and 5 GHz frequency offers numerous technical advantages. For example in 2.4 GHz band operate not only Wi-Fi devices, but also Bluetooth, microwave ovens, cordless phones and many other devices. 5 GHz band is less "crowded", offering many more available channels. But, according to the physics laws, devices operating in the 2.4 GHz band, have a larger effective range. However, manufacturers claim that due to the higher focusing of radio waves, 802.11ac will provide even greater coverage area.

But the most interesting will happan when Wi-Fi roaming will be introduced.
Wi-Fi Alliance says its Passpoint program will turn WiFi into ''an expanded network service", allowing users to roam from one access point to another automatically, just as mobile phones switch from one cell to another.
"In Passpoint (AKA Hotspot 2.0) devices are automatically detected and connected to WiFi network, and no need to manually connect to the netpwk" said WiFi Alliance on May 8, 2012. "Passpoint also automatically adjusts standard WPA2 security method".

As we see, Wi-Fi technology is rapidly evolving. Unfortunately, Ukraine is not among of its developers, but only consumes its benefits . Therefore we can analyze only success of Ukrainian operators in delivering Wi-Fi with comparison to Verizon (USA) (Table 2).

Country

Operator

Number of Wi-Fi hot spots

Tariffs

Ukraine

Ukrtelecom

More than 2000

Free 10 GB per month (for ОГО! clients)

Unlimited for 50 grivnas per month (download/upload speed up to 512 Кbps)

Бесплатно в сети МакДональдз (6- точек доступа по состоянию на май 2012 года)

Ukraine

МТS*

51

1,5 grivnas for 2 hrs

5 grivnas for 24 hrs

Ukraine

Kyivstar*

N/a

7,5 grivnas for 5 МB

USA

Verizon

5000

Verizon Wi-Fi is included with all FIOS Internet 15/5 Mbps and higher speed plans as well as High Speed Internet

*Offer service via wifi.in.ua

It should be noted that several years ago Wireless Ukraine Association initiated a project wifi.in.ua (Metro Wi-Fi). Reported, that "MTS-Ukraine", "Kyivstar", "Ukrainian Radio Systems" and life :) joined the project. Its website said that the service is free, with speed limit up to 512 kBps and with no speed limit with "attractive low prices" (Table 3):

Table 3. Metro Wi-Fi tariffs

Tariff

Duration

1 grivnas

2 hrs

3 grivnas

24 hrs

45 grivnas

1 hrs

Metro Wi-Fi has 2 hotspots in Kharkov, 2 in the Crimea and about 100 hotspots in Kyiv.
As you can see, mostly "enjoy" the benefits of Wi-Fi mostly can residents of the capital of Ukraine. And in May of this year Kyiv City State Administration introduced a WiFi free access project.
Free Wi-Fi will became available to the residents and visitors of Khreschatyk and Maidan Nezalezhnosti and later of Ivan Franko square, Mariinsky park, Kontraktova Square and Shevchenko park. Free Wi-Fi wil cover Obolonskay naberezhnay, Rusanivsky park and park Poznyaki.

But Wi-Fi coverage can be greatly expanded and examples of such projects have been already implemented. For example, UAE operator Du in February 2012 together with Chinese telecom producer Huawei started project to provide WiFi access in Dubai's subway. Passengers and small retailers will have access to the Internet at Dubai subway.

Similar project announced the Chairman Kiev City State Administration Oleksandr Popov: "Yes, free Wi-Fi will be in subway... by the Independence Day of Ukraine". But the project has not been fully implemented.

According the first draft of a project (estimated cost is 8.5 mln grivnas) were planned to install Wi-Fi points only within subway stations, while the second draft (aimed estimated cost is 70 mln grivnas) to provide access to the network inside trains too.

No doubt that such project requires combining efforts of city authorities, telecom operators, subway's management, advertisers and so on. So far, even despite the fact that the demand for access to the Internet in public places, especially in Kiev, is growing very fast, there is no such effective cooperation.

Another large-scale project, which would have used technology Wi-Fi, should be "Open world" estimated $5 billion by the State Agency for National Projects. A draft of this project proposed to use satellite technology to bring Internet to the rural areas and then Wi-Fi to connect schools to the Internet. But it seems that during realization of this project initiators have faced a lot of problems, and no significant changes in its progress has not been reported yet.

However, as demonstartes international experience Wi-Fi technology finds its place among many other technologies and we hope that Wi-Fi will be widely used in Ukraine too.

Еlena Minich, General Director of "Ukrainian Newest Telecommunications", LLC (TM "Freshtel")

Looking back, it is important to note that Wi-Fi is a good example of successful interaction of technologies and demands. In the mid-90's the rapid growth in the number of PCs caused increasing needs in transmitting large amounts of data over short distances, as well as the needs to access the network anywhere, and this was a beginning of the concept of WLAN (Wireless Local Area Network). Revolutionary OFDM method is the base for Wi-Fi, and it allowed to use spectrum more efficient and to achieve high bandwidth. Theoretical and practical experience of OFDM are used now in WiMAX and LTE technologies.

Evaluating the prospects of WiFi, it is important to analyze requirements. The reality is that the needs for access to the network are growing every day. This is the reason of appearing projects, aimed to satisfy such needs In places with high concentration of people and terminals (subways, stadiums, schools, parks, etc.). Thus, we have a demand and an appropriate technical solution. And on the agenda is an issue of financing and monetization of the service. The feature of domestic consumer is that "Wi-Fi" means "free", and in practice the issue of monetization of Wi-Fi as business, remains open. Therefore, we can consider several scenarios of developing Wi-Fi in Ukraine:

- Social initiatives and projects as fully or partially subsidized and which will boost development of society. Positive effect can be expected in the long term;
- Wi-Fi networks as offload in order to solve problems overloading 3G/4G networks. Indoor coverage remains an urgent problem for operators, and transferring a client to the internal Wi-Fi network will solve this problem;
- Wi-Fi as the last mile technology;
- Wi-Fi as an IT-platform for the implementation of enterprise business processes;
- Wi-Fi as a technology for M2M solutions;
- Wi-Fi in households as a platform to access the network, to control home appliances, and as the basis of the "smart home".

In addition, it should be mentioned that using of unlicensed frequency band on one side makes building Wi-Fi networks more easier, but on the other hand it increases the relevance of EMC. The solution has two parts: the development and implementation of hardware and software tools to reduce mutual interference devices and increasing control on illegal providers".




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