The quality of mobile communications in Russia in 2022 – expectations and reality.


The topic was born unexpectedly, a journalist from one of the publications aimed at a mass audience asked the question: “Our readers complain that the quality of communication has changed for the worse, can you comment on what exactly has become worse – breaks during calls, slow Internet?”. He replied that in most regions and places, communication has not become worse, but on the contrary, it has even improved. In response, I received distrust and misunderstanding, because everyone knows that there are problems with the supply of equipment, such companies as Nokia and Ericsson left the Russian market. Apparently, the departure suggests that they take the base stations with them, wind up the optical fiber and, at the same time, take away the power plants, which, like everything else, do not belong to them. The media creates negative expectations, which translate into “knowing” that the connection has become worse, and this can be seen in all manifestations. I am especially touched by comments like “there are fewer sticks on the screen, but before they were all there.” We will not evaluate the quality of communication by the “sticks” of reception on the phone screen, but we will try to figure out what could have happened and what is fiction and what is reality.

I’ll start with personal experience, which does not describe the general situation, but may help to understand it. The quality of work with mobile operators has not changed for me (and these are the SIM cards of all the big four). The coverage area remained exactly the same, problem areas plus or minus the same. On a pleasant note, MegaFon reconfigured the nearest base station, now voice calls are not torn in the elevator, but a zone has appeared in the apartment where the speed of the mobile connection sags compared to the usual one. There are no miracles in the world, they changed the settings, and something turned out better, something worse. For me, this moment is not fundamental, so I think that everything has remained plus or minus the same.

I talk on the phone a lot, they constantly call for comments, and the connection does not break, you hear well, HD codecs are often turned on. Communication can be of poor quality when using VoWiFi, there are also eaten words during a conversation, some voice compression artifacts, and the lack of HD codecs. I use this technology only in places where there is no connection as such. At the same time, VoLTE works almost everywhere and always, there are no problems with this technology on my devices. I will not go into the jungle of the fact that devices must be compatible with networks. But it is important to understand that some Chinese smartphone designed for the Indian market may not work in Russia as easily and simply as you think.

The average speed of mobile Internet in Russia has grown for all operators without exception. The structure of the operator’s business is such that equipment purchases are made in large quantities and ahead of time, that is, in fact, for this year 2022, all operators have enough equipment both to replace the failed one and to develop the network. For example, Beeline constantly talks about this, which also causes bewilderment of journalists, because everyone “knows” that there are no supplies and, therefore, there is a problem. Operators are asked the same question in different ways – when will you die? They look into your eyes, persistently interested in how bad everything is. And the calm response that rumors of death are greatly exaggerated is disappointing. From here materials appear in which they say that death is close, but the “sick” denies his condition. The fact is that there will be enough new equipment until the end of the year inclusive. We have enough of everything to not only support networks, but also develop them.

Another prejudice that baffles me. For some reason, it is believed that the operators are having fun with suicide, folded their hands, calmly sat down and waited for their death. Do nothing! Where do you get these thoughts from? Deliveries of equipment and software for it appear, another thing is that they do not write about it on the front pages of newspapers in order to preserve the channels of these supplies and opportunities for development. The journalists demand (I saw it with my own eyes, they really demand and knock their feet!), because the public must know where the equipment is brought from, who pays for it, and further down the list. Where does this infantilism and misunderstanding of the moment in which we live come from?

Another important point is the margin of safety of any mobile network. In Russia, this is an average of 20%, in some regions more, somewhere a little less. Each operator builds its networks with a margin of safety, as it sees how the consumption of mobile traffic is growing. For example, the same beeline modernized a number of regions, carried out a large construction site. In these regions, he has a greater margin of safety.

Another step that operators took at the end of 2021 is the abolition of unlimited Internet access. Such unlimiteds heavily load the network for everyone, which means they choose the same capacity. New unlimited connections are closed, they are gradually being canceled on old tariffs, both public and corporate. And here the impressions of people can vary greatly, because since the beginning of the year the mobile Internet service has changed for those who still use unlimiteds.

The priority on the network for unlimited users is reduced, the data transfer rate for them on average becomes lower. This is clearly visible for most operators and tariff plans, the next step is the abolition of unlimited itself. For those who use regular tariffs with packages, on the contrary, the speed has increased, as they receive more priority. This is just setting up networks, but it gives a very good result in practice, and most importantly, we have freed up additional capacity. This hidden reserve for operators has at least 30% of additional network capacity. Let me remind you that in the second quarter, the average traffic in the Beeline network was 15 GB, in the previous year it was 12 GB. We see exactly the same figures for all operators, it is impossible to say that networks are degrading, since there is an increase in traffic. These figures indirectly refute thoughts about the worsening of the situation at the moment.

There is no doubt that operators are starting to actively tune their networks to specific tariff proposals and service consumption profiles. Those who use the old tariffs with unlimited Internet will begin to notice a drop in the average speed, and every month it will be more noticeable. After that, switching to a package tariff and returning the speed to the previous level. Changes do not occur for all at once, operators change the conditions for a part of the audience. Why this is so can be read in a separate article (just like tariff changes, there is no fabulous cut-off switch for everyone).

In our survey, we asked how mobile internet and voice calls have changed. The responses show that for the majority, the quality of communication has not changed.

The survey can be found here

Of course, among those who answered there are those who faced problems in practice. Otherwise, they set up a base station at home or work, changed the settings, and further down the list. But I’m sure that most just expected that the connection should get worse, and this is reflected in their answers. In general, all my life in telecom, I hear from a certain part of the people that the connection is terrible, there is no development, and so on. However, they say the same thing not only about communication, but about everything in the world – from the country to some trifles.

At the moment, there is no need to talk about a sharp deterioration in the quality of communications in Russia, the situation is no different from last year, communications have even improved a little – there are more base stations, expanded transport to BS, and so on. Negative expectations are about the future, but there is simply nothing like that in the present. Often, the negative is also associated with a change in the cost of communication services, an increase of 10% is perceived as something catastrophic and is immediately interpreted as a deterioration of the same mobile Internet. That is, 550 rubles for such and such a number of megabits and GB in the package was good, but 550 rubles for the same set of services is a lot. There is also such a moment.

Instrumental measurements of communication quality are carried out by both operators and independent companies, you can see a trend in them, there is no absolute here. And the trend is such that we do not see any drastic changes, all parameters are at the expected level, adjusted for development during the year.

It will be possible to talk about the degradation of mobile communications at the beginning of 2023, and then only if the operators do nothing at all. They will just sit straight, refuse to develop and further down the list. What I see from the work of the operators says exactly the opposite – they have not had such activities for a long time. So you need to separate reality and expectations, they differ greatly. Approximately like the expectations of the dollar at 200 rubles, which were not realized. But this was expected, and some are still waiting. So it is with communication, the expectations are negative, but the reality does not confirm them.

Source: — Все о мобильной технике и технологиях by

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