Wi-fi is not for everyone. How to authorize foreigners in the network by law?

    When was the last time you connected to public Wi-Fi? Suppose it was on a journey. In order not to pay for international roaming, you turned off cellular data and used free internet at the airport, in a cafe or in a hotel. If you know how to use offline maps and are not obsessed with Instagram, standard Wi-Fi Free should be enough for you.

    Moreover, the process of identification abroad is as simple as possible - your phone number may be needed somewhere and you will be connected to the Internet via SMS, but most often you won’t need to enter anything, at most, check the authorization page.


    In Russia, with free internet is a bit more complicated. On the one hand, you can connect to Wi-Fi everywhere, but where it is not enough, there is cheap mobile Internet with excellent speed and coverage. But what if you are an “Intourist”? According to the law, since 2014, public access to the Internet cannot identify foreigners or this creates a lot of inconvenience.

    A few numbers. WIFI is real everywhere

    According to approximate data, in Russia there are more than 100,000 points of free access to the Internet, not counting Wi-fi cafes, hotels and shops.

    In large cities, Internet access is everywhere: at airports, in the metro and on land transport, at bus stops, on streets and in parks.
    In Moscow, thanks to the joint work of operators and city structures represented by the Department of Transport of Moscow and Mosgortrans, buses, trams, trolleybuses, public transport stops, metro trains and the Moscow Central Ring (Wi-Fi) are equipped with Wi-Fi routers. In total, more than 8 thousand vehicles and more than 200 public transport stops.

    In addition, in preparation for the 2018 World Cupand within the framework of the Smart City concept, a Moscow City Wi-Fi network was created by the joint efforts of Moscow operators and DIT, which is a basic wireless infrastructure that provides residents and guests of the capital with free access to the Internet on the streets, universities, hostels of educational institutions, in Moscow culture houses museums and parks. Over 20,000 access points have been installed. Each of them provides a signal in a radius of up to 50 meters, and switching between points does not require re-authorization.

    The network allows providing access to the Internet at the same time up to 55 thousand users, operates in two frequencies (2.4 and 5 GHz), creates reliable reception at the intersection with other Wi-Fi networks and various household devices operating at 2.4 GHz or in case of public events.

    Tourists are most demanded free Wi-Fi, but not all foreigners can use it. According to the current legislation, authorization in the network is possible only with the identification of personal data.

    What does the law say?

    In July 2014, the Government of the Russian Federation issued Decree No. 758 of July 31, 2014, regulating Federal Law No. 97-FZ of May 5, 2014 ... Now, when providing one-time data transmission services in places of collective access, the operator must ensure the identification of users and the equipment they use "By establishing the surname, name, patronymic (if any) of the user, confirmed by an identity document."

    The decision caused a wave of questions from telecom operators and owners of public Wi-Fi facilities. In response, Decree of the Government of the Russian Federation No. 801 dated August 12, 2014 on the identification of Wi-Fi users was adopted, according to which identity can now be verified “in another way, ensuring the reliable establishment of the specified information”:

    • using “reliable establishment of the subscriber number assigned to the user in accordance with the contract for the provision of mobile radiotelephone services concluded with a telecom operator”;
    • using the “state federal information system” (for example, government services).

    You can purchase a SIM card in Russia (officially) and register on the State Services portal only by confirming your identity with your passport. These methods are acceptable for a resident of Russia, but inconvenient for foreigners.

    Pros and cons of the law, or how it actually works

    Theoretically, a foreign citizen can try to authenticate from his number. The text of the decision of August 12 does not specify that the telephone number should be from a Russian operator. A subscriber of a foreign mobile operator can send an SMS with a code that must be entered to access public Wi-Fi.

    However, since foreign cellular companies are not required to respond to requests from Russian law enforcement authorities, identification of the person in this way cannot be carried out.
    In practice, this means that some operators continue to provide the service, despite the lack of verification.

    On the State Services website, foreigners without SNILS cannot receive a verified account, and accordingly log in to the network. It turns out that in order to access public Wi-Fi, a foreigner must present a passport or get a Russian phone number, which is not very convenient.

    Other methods of identification were needed, and operators were given the freedom to choose their own solutions.

    Authorization scheme


    What options?

    By transport

    Now it is possible to connect to wi-fi not only in buses and metro, but also on intercity and long-distance trains. For example, in the Sapsan and Swallow trains, including those involving Netbynet, a network was implemented along the entire route.

    On some long-distance trains of Russian Railways, there is no authorization page by phone number, passengers can connect to the network using the last digits of the passport and seat number.

    In hotels, this is

    most often an authorization option for vouchers. The method is similar to authorization by phone number (via SMS or by call) and fully complies with the requirements of the law regarding access to a public network.

    Upon presentation of a passport, a new voucher is created for each guest with a unique login and password. Each room voucher in the system is assigned a room number, passport number, phone number, date of arrival and departure of the owner. To gain access to the Internet, you must enter the username and password for the voucher on the authorization page.

    Voucher authorization is usually used by institutions with a large flow of visitors: hotels, hotels, motels, recreation centers. This saves on sending SMS messages. For example, because of the large number of foreign tourists, Vodohod cruise liners have implemented this particular identification method.

    Integration of the authorization portal with the hotel management system is also widespread. It is enough for the guest to enter the number of his room and the last 4 digits of the identity document. Each user is tied to a number, the data is automatically checked with data from a system that not only stores data about guests, but also allows guests to order various services without a call to the reception - food delivery, taxi, appointment for massage, etc.

    At public events

    , for example, at the World Cup last year, authorization using a fan passport or Fan ID was the solution to identify foreign fans. This is an identification card that every spectator who bought a ticket for the 2018 World Cup received. A fan passport provided access to the stadium, and also was an identity card.

    Fan ID gave foreigners the opportunity to repeatedly enter Russia without applying for visas and a migration card. With its help, foreign guests could use city buses for free on public transport routes to stadiums, and intercity trains running between the host cities.

    It was enough to enter the number of your Fan ID on the authorization page, and a foreign tourist got access to the Internet in a train, bus, metro, stadium, without violating the law.

    What's next?

    Unfortunately, all these methods solve the problem only partially. A foreign guest will be provided with Wi-Fi at the hotel, however, he will not be able to access the Internet throughout the journey. For comfortable use of Wi-Fi, a faster and simpler version of authorization or legislative changes is required that apply to this topic.

    What method would you suggest? And what did we miss?

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