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Summary:

It’s not fiber, but it’s not copper either. Fixed Wireless (read certified WiMAX) is just the kind of leapfrog technology that makes sense in emerging telecom markets such as India and China. Certified WiMAX took a big step forward in India today, when local incumbent Bharat […]

It’s not fiber, but it’s not copper either. Fixed Wireless (read certified WiMAX) is just the kind of leapfrog technology that makes sense in emerging telecom markets such as India and China.

Certified WiMAX took a big step forward in India today, when local incumbent Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) announced that it would roll out fixed wireless networks in six Indian cities, and will offer high bandwidth connections to corporate customers. The cities where networks would be rolled out include Kolkata (in West Bengal), Bangalore (in Karnataka), Chennai (in Tamil Nadu), Ahmedabad (in Gujarat), Hyderabad (in Andhra Pradesh), and Pune (in Maharastra).


The deployment, which will also cover four rural districts in the State of Haryana, is planned for completion in January, according to Aperto Networks which is supplying the equipment. Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai and Pune are four major technology hubs in India and are in severe need of bandwidth. Many US companies have operations in these cities including giants such as Microsoft and Google. The initial deployments would offer speeds upto 2 megabits per second.

This is a second major win for Milpitas, Calif.-based Aperto, which is also a key supplier for a 65-city fixed wireless network being built by another local phone company, VSNL. The network will eventually be extended to 200 cities.

In addition to these networks, Intel has WiMAX trials planned for Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune and Bangalore. Like Intel, Alcatel is also aggressively pushing WiMAX in India. Indian ISP DishNet has fixed wireless networks deployed (or under development) in eight cities, and is targeting the consumers. Nokia will start selling WiMAX gear in 2007, and Motorola also is planning to jump into the fray, according to local media reports.

According to a report by research firms Maravedis and Tonse Telecom India will have 13 million WiMAX subscribers by 2012. The demand for wireless broadband gear is going to add up to about $4.5 billion by 2012. Still, these numbers should be taken with requisite caution. The cost of transmission gear remains high, and the customer premise equipment is still expensive by local standards. Given that fixed wireless frequency of choice in India is 3.3-to-3.4 GHz, India is unlikely to benefit from the economies of scale that would come with WiMAX. Globally, WiMAX signals are likely to be transmitted in the 2.5-to-2.69 GHz band.

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  1. Om, you know India. What do you think about analysts reports that claim Wimax isn’t a good fit for India because of expensive end-user devices.

  2. Harshal Vaidya Friday, December 15, 2006

    I’m an Indian and hereby state that take the 2012 with a pound of salt. With the kind of red-tapism make that 2012 to 2024!!

  3. Rick, as to your question, with about 5000$ per transmission tower and $300 CPE, the cost is pretty high for rolling out these networks from a consumer perspective.

    i bet with the way indian economy is growing, corporations and enterprise be happy to pay any money for connectivity right now, so that’s a market where this business can actually work.

  4. I’ve read an interesting analyst report that basically said Wimax was more expensive than a broader cellular coverage and that basic phone service would take precedence of wireless broadband. Basically, Wimax would require expensive smartphones or even computers Most of the Indian population cannot afford the those items until economies of scale and cheaper technology is available for Wimax (in about 10 years).

  5. Om .. Dont you think that enterprises are better served by just fat pipes using plain old wirelines. The enterprises are clustered around few IT parks. Distribution is not the problem, back end bandwidth is.

    I do not completely understand why go wireless?

  6. Jesse Kopelman Friday, December 15, 2006

    Actually Om, you are confusing Fixed and Mobile WiMax in terms of frequencies. 3.5 GHz and thereabouts is going to be very popular for fixed deployments, as this frequency is avialable most everywhere but the US (and even here in some places). Indeed, most (all?) of the already certified Fixed WiMax gear is 3.5 GHz. 2.6 GHz is for Mobile WiMax. Note that the distinction I am making is not necessarily what flavor of 802.16, but whether the subscribers are actually mobile or not.

  7. Great news OM. Would be interested in knowing how INTEL does in Mumbai.
    Cheers!
    Alpesh

  8. Fixed wireless financials look great in greenfield rollouts (overseas countries without built-out wireline networks), but not where it has to compete with built-out fixed line networks. Having run the numbers 3 years ago, I can say the clear conclusion was to take the technology overseas. WiMax in US – versus DSL, Cable or Fiber?!?!? Sure, if you assume $10 monthly ARPUs, which no one who runs those financial models does… Ask those tough questions for US wireless hopefuls and you’ll hear a lot of stammering. Amazingly, VCs and PE funds continue to pour money into US wireless broadband plays.

  9. hi there;
    mobile wireless internet do have a good feture in india but it will take at least 3 more years when end user cpe will 50 – 80 $.then u will see a good groth in internet subscribers, till then fixed wimax will have its course.

  10. hey, could someone tell me how many customers can one WiMAX tower serve and what individual bandwidths would the customers get? and by the way, on a personal note, i believe that services like HSPA n its further evolutions will prove to be good enough for mobile wireless broadband and who would anyways take the headache of rolling out a completly new network for WiMAX?? WiMAX doesnt seem very promising…

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