Almost two years after winning BWA spectrum, successful bidders are expected to roll out BWA services in India by early 2012.
According to recent reports, US chipmaker Qualcomm, which won BWA spectrum in four circles in India, is set to launch LTE services by the year-end or by the first half of next year, and has almost finalized its Indian partner for the venture, to fulfill its strategy of giving the Indian operator control of its LTE reins and then exiting the venture.
According to TRAI’s March 2011 figures, India currently has 11. 21 million broadband connections – a figure which has been targeted to reach 100 million by 2014. With current mobile connections pegged at 826.93 million the only way forward for India to reach its ambitious broadband targets is with the help of mobile broadband, which is expected to see a leap with 3G networks, that can in turn be upgraded to 4G or LTE.
Warning that India could not afford to miss the universal broadband coverage, Rajan S Mathews, director-general of COAI feels that auction is not the best way for the national imperative move forward, as it was shifting a vast amount of resources from the private sector to the government sector and to restore the balance of dynamism in the spread of mobile broadband it was necessary to bring that money back in the service of the spread and reach of the telecom-broadband networks.
We are already working towards TDD LTE, and have partnered with Rancore Technologies for the same. We will be the first to launch TD-LTE in India, if it happens. Presently operators are providing 3G, but this has the challenge of backhaul provisioning of the BTS, and flat architecture of LTE will be a nightmare if launched with the present architecture. Some of the other challenges hindering LTE launch are in-building penetration, regulatory norms, and buildings blocking the way of BTS.
However,LTE with its unmatched speed and latency, providing a 5,000 terabyte download in the next two years, can help India to achieve its target of 250 million mobile broadband subscribers by 2015, from the current meager 7-8 percent
mobile Internet penetration rate. In addition, thanks to its interoperability
with 3G, instead of launching all-India LTE, LTE can be launched only in areas
where data consumption is high, and 3G can remain in the rest of the country,”
explained Arun Kumar Gupta, CTO, RCOM.
Recently, the DoT said that it would ask for an additional 100 MHz spectrum from various ministries, including defence that may
generate Rs 80,000 crore revenues for the government if the price of 3G auction
last year is taken as a base.
According to TRAI, the total requirement of spectrum in the next five years would amount to approximately 500-800 MHz, including 275 MHz for voice services alone. However, the availability of spectrum is only
about 287 to 450 MHz.
The additional spectrum will no doubt be a boost for data services, bringing India a step closer to LTE, which is the technology of the future, already in the process of being deployed in the rest of the world.
By Beryl M