BSNLs announcement of plans for WiMax reminds me of a comment made during the TiE-ISB Connect: that broadband in India was suffering because BSNL got the mandate for a broadband rollout, made announcements, brought down rates, but did not follow through on its rollout plans. Perhaps a similar situation might occur in WiMax: ET reports that BSNL has announced that it intends to roll out WiMax services in two months. A tender of Rs. 2000 crores for launching WiMax in rural India will be floated next week. The rural service will cover 25,000 villages and be funded out of the Universal Service Obligation (USO) fund. BSNL will also set up 50,000 WiMax kiosks. For urban India, another tender for Rs. 2000 crores will be floated within two months. That will cover 70 cities, and services will be launched by the end of 2008. BSNL also plans to take fibre to premises, and offer speeds of 100mbs within two and a half years.
A big announcement indeed, but I won’t be surprised if it goes the broadband way. The government really needs to unbundle the last mile for broadband to take root in this country.
Meanwhile, Tata Communications Limited (formerly VSNL), also plans to roll out WiMax by the end of this year, including Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai, with a capital expenditure of Rs. 2250 crores.