With gigabits at the ready

With gigabits at the ready

Authorities have approved the use of 5.9–6.4 GHz frequencies for the Wi-Fi BE communications standard in offices and residential buildings. The standard increases the speed of wireless Internet access and is possible on all modern smartphones, tablets and PCs, but has not been legalized in the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation Ministry for Digital Technology, Communication and Mass Media believes that given the shortage of equipment for mobile Wi-Fi networks, it can partially compensate for the decrease in their bandwidth. However, the performance of the function depends on the position of equipment suppliers who have stopped supporting Russian devices.

With gigabits at the ready

The State Commission for Radio Frequencies at its meeting on December 23 decided to assign the range of 5.9–6.4 GHz to Wi-Fi BE communication standard indoors, including offices and residential buildings.

The essential difference between Wi-Fi 6E and its predecessor Wi-Fi 6 is that it operates at 6 GHz and a greater number of channels within the frequency. Devices supporting Wi-Fi 6 have been certified in Russia since early 2020. Wi-Fi 6E devices entered the market in 2021, this standard is supported by all the latest models of Apple, Samsung, Honor, Xiaomi and other smartphones as well as Asus, Acer, Lenovo and other laptops. However, for Russia, the vendors turned off the functionality because the technology had not been legalized in the country.

Previously, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequency bands were used for Wi-Fi in Russia, and now the lower part of the 6 GHz band will be added, explained Oleg Ivanov, CEO of the Radio Research Institute under the Ministry for Digital Technology, Communication and Mass Media: "All indications are that 5 GHz Wi-Fi is much faster and more stable than 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi. The new 6 GHz bands will be even faster and will allow the development of gigabit speeds per user”.

Moreover, given the attenuation the supply of LTE networks equipment from a number of vendors, Wi-Fi can partially compensate for the decrease in the transmission capacity of cellular networks, believes Oleg Ivanov. The technology will provide the user with a better level of service due to a higher connection speed, said Anton Guskov, a representative of the Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment (RATEK), "We support the decision of the regulator." 

Because of the military operations in Ukraine, most foreign manufacturers of not only smartphones, tablets and computers, but also routers have stopped direct shipments to Russia. Among the vendors whose devices support Wi-Fi 6E are TP-Link, Zyxel, Asus, Netgear and so on. With regard to the availability of routers with Wi-Fi 6E support in Russia, "there are no major problems," Mr. Ivanov assures. He explained: "A large number of Wi-Fi devices are manufactured by Chinese and Taiwanese companies, which have not imposed any restrictions on imports into Russia. Otherwise, these are mass market devices, and their import can be arranged from third countries." The Ministry for Digital Technology, Communication and Mass Media confirmed that routers "arrive in sufficient quantities through existing logistics chains."

The production of Russian routers with the appropriate characteristics "takes time," the ministry clarified, but “a lot of groundwork has been done.” In October, Roselectronics Holding, a part of the Rostec Group, announced that it had developed and started full-scale production of routers based on the Baikal processor. The company clarified that the current version of the routers does not support WI-FI 6E, this functionality is “under development and testing”.

But even if the equipment is available, there is a risk that the new standard will not be available in the Russian Federation. The case is that Intel, whose wireless modules are used in laptops, disables their support in countries where the frequencies are not licensed. This was particularly the case with Wi-Fi 6: even after the legalization of the standard in the Russian Federation in 2020, in order to activate the function, the user had to update the drivers and BIOS of the computer. " Given the current geopolitical situation, there is a significant risk that Intel will not rush to activate modem modules of Wi-Fi 6E devices," believes Alexey Boyko, an analyst at MForum Analytics. 

Communications providers support the allocation of new frequencies for Wi-Fi, but make doubt that the technology will be able to seriously compete with LTE. "There is no "normal mobility" in it, but it is quite suitable for partial offloading of the data transmission network in places of mass gathering of Wi-Fi users it is quite suitable," Vimpelcom believes, explaining that it can be, for example, about large shopping malls or concert halls.


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