J’Son and Partners conducted an extensive research of Russian public hotspot market. In Q3 2004 Wi-Fi hotspots in the Russian Federation increased with 80% compared to Q2. J&P predicts even stronger growth for Q4 reaching 200 hotspots and 3000 regular Wi-Fi users by December 2004. 19 Russian companies now provide commercial Wi-Fi or plan to launch commercial service in 2004. Top-5 Wi-Fi providers operate in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Top Wi-Fi provider – Moscom – operates 20 hotspots in Moscow. Other companies vying for leadership in metropolitan wireless connectivity market are Quantum, Tascom, Stelcom and Peterstar. The providers seem to agree on the average charge being $5 per hour, with Moscom charging its customers $10 per hour.
J&P projects 1250 – 1500 commercial hotspots and 25,000-30,000 Wi-Fi users by 2008 with the majority of them in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Several new market entrants have announced ambitious plans for Wi-Fi developments including Golden Telecom, Wiland Ltd., WiFinder, Equant, Comstar United Telesystems, and MegaFon. At this stage of the market developments operators tend to choose different venue types for initial service introduction.
Over the last 3 months public hotspots appeared in Siberia, the Urals and the South region. Two new cities in the Volga region [Toliatti and Nizhnii Novgorod] joined the group of Wi-Fi pioneers offering commercial public Wi-Fi.
First Russian Wi-Fi roaming agreement has been signed by Peterstar and Quantum enabling customers of both to use a joint hotspot network of two companies [total ? 31 hotspots]. A new type of tariff is now being offered by some Wi-Fi providers ? with a charge per MB of traffic [e.g. 1,8 – 6 rubles ($0,06 – 0,2) per MB]. Laptops can be rented by the hour at the Drova restaurant chain. Clients are charged for the time of access and can use the Wi-Fi service for 120 rubles per hour. Combined Wi-Fi/dial-up payment card was issued by Quantum, this is another step forward towards more customer convenience and the first project of this kind in Russia. New Wi-Fi service providers [ArtCommunications and Stelcom] appear in Moscow targeting mainly cafes and restaurants.