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Summary:

[qi:___wimax] Indian incumbent BSNL plans to spend about $750 million on a nationwide WiMAX network that will primarily target rural areas and small towns and cover a sixth of the country’s ever-growing population. This has to be one of the largest WiMAX rollouts anywhere on the […]

[qi:___wimax] Indian incumbent BSNL plans to spend about $750 million on a nationwide WiMAX network that will primarily target rural areas and small towns and cover a sixth of the country’s ever-growing population. This has to be one of the largest WiMAX rollouts anywhere on the planet.

The funds for the first phase of deployment are coming from a universal service fund set up for broadband access. BSNL will roll out the WiMAX network in large cities later as a separate buildout. The initial network will connect schools and telephony kiosks in villages.

The state-owned incumbent that is often the target of choice four-letter words because of dropped calls to my parents in Delhi has been dabbling with WiMAX for a while now. The announcement comes close on the heels of the Indian government clarifying its 3G policies.

The primary beneficiaries of this new network are going to be local WiMAX gear maker Telsima Networks, Aperto and Cisco-owned Navini Networks. India is fast becoming a big WiMAX testbed. From Intel, Alcatel-Lucent to small startups, all are betting on the WiMAX rollouts promised by incumbents and private sector players such as Reliance and Tata.

Wireless technologies seem to work well in India vs. wired broadband, which is popular in other fast-growing telecom markets such as China. Maybe it is easier and faster to roll out wireless infrastructure and start making money.

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  1. BSNL always has grandiose plans. But its hard to find an answer for how much of it is really implemented. Let’s hope this WiMax project doesn’t go the famed BSNL’s $4 billion GSM contract way.

  2. Well I would still rather wait and see, India is famous for having great plans on paper and nothing done to realise them.

  3. Didnt we hear sometime back that Pune was going to be covered in free wifi???

  4. It’s still a good news that such an initiative is talked about by BSNL. Tata Indicom is already working towards rolling out WiMAX in all the major cities, including here in Hyderabad, by March/April 2009. No idea what Reliance and Airtel are doing but any plans regarding WiMAX is good news in my book.

  5. In countries/regions were the wired infrastructure is weak or non-existent, Wimax is a great option.

    It’s already happening all over Africa too, and soon Russia.

  6. I think WiMAX is a very good bet for the Indian market. It has immense potential with a big increase in internet users.

    Its just that promises for WiMAX have been coming for a long time and the government has been very slow dealing with the whole thing!!

  7. Om
    “it is easier and faster to rollout wireless infrastructure” is right on target. There are only 40M phone lines for a billion people, so you can’t reach most of the population that way. Instead they are adding incredible numbers of mobile phones, 60M or more this year.

    So wireless is it. The only thing holding back Wimax has been the cost of the receivers, which is finally coming down. That’s why the total number of Wimax connections is low, but likely to grow fast.

    The interesting question is whether WiMax or traditional mobile data wins. CDMA can deliver just about the same performance as WiMax, despite all the WiMax hype. Bharti and others have been beating BSNL, so they may have an edge in the new highspeed wireless data market.
    
    Very interesting they are funding this out of universal service money. That may bring BSNL back into the game. BSNL is government owned, and the current government has many leftists (even Communists) who back the unions and state control. So it's no surprise the government is tipping towards BSNL, trying to reverse the decline.
    

    db

  8. I was an (unfortunate) early adopter of the Reliance WiMAX in Bangalore, India. Hopefully Reliance will get to learn how to really ‘role out’ a service at this scale. :)

  9. BSNL’s Big $750 MM WiMAX Network Plan

    Indian incumbent BSNL plans to spend about $750 million on a nationwide WiMAX network that will primarily target rural areas and small towns and cover a sixth of the country’s ever-growing population. This has to be one of the largest WiMAX rollouts …

  10. Just so you know Om, MTNL runs the phone network in Delhi. Not BSNL.

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