WiMAX in India: The Right Choice!

Vested interests are trying to
portray WiMAX technology  in the bad light recently in the Indian media.
This is somewhat baffling to many of us at WiMAX Forum, who have fought long
and hard to work with the Indian government on the release of broadband
wireless spectrum.


For years we have spoken to India
again and again of the power of broadband, and of WiMAX. Our President and
Chairman has stood next to top representatives of the DoT and TRAI at great
events such as India Telecom and WiMAX India, urging them to release spectrum
and bring mass adoption of broadband to India. Last year that spectrum was
auctioned, and still there have been delays in the rollout of BWA.


These delays are understandable, if
a disappointment to the people of India. Operators have an important financial
decision before them regarding which technology to choose. But suddenly we find
that the questions are directed at WiMAX, and this is truly puzzling. India has
been talking about WiMAX for years.


We know one another, and India
should know our technology. WiMAX should not be the technology under question.
There are currently over 820 million people across the world with access to
WiMAX technology. There are over 580 WiMAX deployments in 149 countries across
the world, and some 13 million WiMAX subscribers.


WiMAX is a tested technology that
boasts well over 300 consumer devices operating primarily on three spectrum
bands. But in the Indian media there are questions about WiMAX, while there are
seemingly no questions for a competitive technology with no commercial
deployments, and no commercial devices.


The questions about WiMAX as a
technology have been answered. Major global operators such as Sprint Nextel,
KDDI, and KT have chosen WiMAX. These operators are not stupid. They are not
inexperienced.


Both the United States Federal
Aviation Administration and its European counterpart EuroControl performed
independent studies and came to the conclusion that WiMAX was the right choice
for aviation services communications. Thousands of airports around the world
will begin to deploy WiMAX soon – and these organizations think in terms of
twenty year long replacement cycles. WiMAX is not going away.


Now BSNL, a great Indian operator
and one of the world’s largest, has decided to move forward with WiMAX. It
plans to deploy 20,000 base stations over the next 36 months through a series
of revenue sharing franchisees.


The WiMAX Forum and the WiMAX
ecosystem are serious about WiMAX in India to help BSNL and its franchisees. On
February 22-23 the WiMAX Forum and BSNL jointly held a WiMAX Network Deployment
Workshop wherein WiMAX franchisees from across India gathered in New Delhi to
learn best practices for deploying greenfield WiMAX networks. The WiMAX Network
Deployment Workshop in New Delhi was an interactive event for BSNL’s
Franchisees to gain a concrete understanding of the necessary steps involved in
performing a new site survey and analysis, planning and provisioning a network,
deploying and maintaining a network and learning about the best practices
required for ensuring a successful and profitable network deployment.


These operators represent millions
of subscribers, and the vendors represent hundreds of millions of dollars in
WiMAX business. This event will be a testament to the efforts of BSNL and its
franchisees to quickly bring broadband to the people of India.


There have recently been questions
in the media regarding BSNL’s 2.5 GHz spectrum. It has been accused of being
unsuitable for broadband, which is of course a ridiculous notion. Oddly enough,
the people who claim in India that 2.5 GHz is unsuitable for BWA are the same
people who in other countries are lobbying for the auction of 2.5 GHz spectrum
in FDD for the deployment of a competitive technology. Dear friends – either
the spectrum is good, or it is not. I believe that Sprint Nextel and Clearwire
in the United States can give you a better answer to that question than anyone
else.


Furthermore claims have been made
that BSNL will be all alone in its use of 2.5 GHz. That it will be unable to
scale in devices. WiMAX has already established itself primarily in the 2.3GHz,
2.5GHz, and 3.5GHz bandwidths.


In particular, most of our
subscribers are on 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz networks. These are excellent
frequencies for broadband, and our harmonization around 3 primary spectrum
bands is great for a global industry. It has huge benefits for global roaming
and equipment volumes.


At our WiMAX Forum Global Operator
Summit, held in Taipei this January, Taiwanese device manufacturers stated that
they can deliver 2.3GHz/2.5GHz multiband devices for the same price as a 2.5GHz
standalone device. This is an incredibly important development for operators of
all sizes in all regions. And these 2.3/2.5 GHz chips are many times cheaper
than any competitive technology.


BSNL has clearly made the right
choice.


This is our rebuttal. Recent claims
in the media range from uninformed to ludicrous. WiMAX technology is here now,
and it is ready for India. WiMAX: Yehi Hai right choice for True Wireless Broad
band revolution now !


By Shyam Kaushal,
regional director India, WiMAX Forum
editor@telecomlead.com