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India is only hope for WiMAX in South Asia

April 16, 2009 11:58 IST

The only hope for WiMax operations in South Asia will be India, according to the Yankee Group, since even in countries like the US and other advanced nations, the technology "cannot be rated as successful".

WiMax or Worldwide Inter-operability for Microwave Access is a telecommunications technology that provides wireless transmission of data using a variety of transmission modes.

The wireless technology is said to deliver 70 Mbps over 50 kilometres. It, however, can either operate at higher bitrates or over longer distances but not both. Fixed WiMAX networks typically have a higher-gain directional antenna installed near the client (customer) which results in greatly-increased range and throughput.

Mobile WiMAX networks are usually made of indoor "customer premises equipment" (CPEs) such as desktop modems, laptops with integrated Mobile WiMAX or other Mobile WiMAX devices.

Even though some operators like Bharti Airtel, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (along with Soma Networks) and Reliance Communications (RCom) have begun offering WiMax services, the industry is awaiting allocation of Broadband Wireless (BWA) spectrum to offer full-fledged services.

At present, companies are offering WiMax services on 3.3 GHz, and with the government allocating the 2.3 and 2.5 GHz spectrum (considered superior), these firms would be able to offer full-fledged WiMax services. The telecom ministry had earlier announced simultaneous allocation of both 3G and BWA spectrum, which is yet to happen.

Bharti Airtel had earlier announced plans to launch services across 300 cities, while RCom has launched services in Bangalore and Pune, and BSNL across in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. The WiMax Forum (India Chapter) had estimated that the delay in auctioning Broadband and Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum will cost the country around $2.2 billion (Rs 10,500 crore), excluding the estimated Rs 4,000-crore (Rs 40 billion) spectrum fee.

"We have Tata Communications leading the way here, with the company already rolling out fixed WiMax services and mobile (WiMax) services expected to follow soon. There is some hope for the technology in the country," Yankee Group Senior Vice President Ashvin Vellody told Business Standard.

Rajesh S Kurup in Mumbai