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Carrier Equipment: WiMax: Future Positive

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VoicenData Bureau
New Update

In India, where the telecom infrastructure is not strong enough and last-mile

connections are typically through copper cable, DSL and fibre optic installation

costs are high. The ability to provide these connections without wires,

therefore, greatly lowers the cost of providing these services. This is why

WiMax is an attractive alternative for providing last-mile connection in

wireless metropolitan area networks, especially in cellular backhauls. With

India targeting a broadband subscriber-base of 9 mn by 2007 and 20 mn by 2010,

the industry is going to see more action in future. During 2006-07, the industry

has witnessed some major developments taking place in the WiMax equipment

segment.

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Size of the Market



Former telecommunication minister Dayanidhi Maran's decision to
ensure quality broadband access t o customers-both individual and

enterprises-has paved the way for the growth of WiMax technology deployments in

India with the total WiMax equipment market touching Rs 88 crore during FY

'06-07.

However, the size of the certified WiMax equipment market is comparatively

lower than the non-certified market because certification of products started

recently. The size of the certified market is pegged at Rs 4.4 crore, while Rs

83.6 crore is the market size of non-certified products. Main vendors active in

the market are Aperto Networks, Alvarion, Telsima, Airspan, etc. According to

estimates, Aperto has emerged as the top player during FY '06-07 followed by

Alvarion and Telsima.

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Broad-Basing Broadband



Though the year 2007 has been flagged as the Year of Broadband in
India, fiscal 2006-07 has already cleared the path for the broadband revolution.

The ongoing broadband penetration assisted Indian vendors and operators to take

a lead role in the introduction of WiMax technology

. In India, penetration of broadband is still very low as compared to other

nations. WiMax will help broadband penetrate into rural markets as one no longer

needs to lay copper, hence deployments become faster. Mass scale deployment will

also reduce cost of service for users. The government has recently proposed to

offer all citizens of India free and high-speed broadband connectivity by 2009,

through the state-owned telecom service providers-BSNL and MTNL. Telecom in

India is definitely on a roll, and moves like this will serve to help the

wireless broadband sector.

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Increased PC penetration and increased content and e-commerce, probable

saturation of the mobile market in the next two to three years, need for a

growth driver to the operator, and e-Governance initiatives may also be main

growth drivers for WiMax. On top of this, the government in India is pushing

WiMax aggressively. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is planning to

de-license an additional 50 MHz bandwidth that can be used for commercial WiMax

services. The biggest advantage that WiMax offers is a large network range

spanning up to 10 km, which would help increase broadband penetration in rural

areas where provision for wired connections has been difficult.

However, the current need is to get fixed/nomadic broadband services at

affordable cost and have a scalable deployment technology.



Vendor Revenue




The Rs 88 crore market is expected to grow to Rs 132 crore during
2007-08 with certified equipment and non-certified equipment equally sharing the

market at Rs 66 crore each.

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Alvarion is one of the largest vendors of equipment for WiMax networks.

Alvarion is now the driving force behind open WiMax, which brings a fresh

attitude to the market replacing a vendor-centric environment developed by large

telecom vendors with a disruptive operator-centric culture. It has been the

leader by listening to the needs of customers and investing heavily in R&D.

For Telsima, the current revenue stream from DCME and WiMax products is less

than $10 mn annually. It is currently working with two large private operators

who, between them, control more than 50% of international Internet connectivity.

It is also venturing into retail access.

WiMax Offerings

Vendor

Edge

Main Clients

Aperto

Aperto's PacketWAVE family of base stations and subscriber

units are a part of a country-wide network that enables high-speed wireless

voice and data services for a wide variety of end users throughout India

VSNL, BSNL, Bharti, Aircel

Alvarion

Will be launching mobile WiMax for the 3.3 GHz band

Bharti, Aircel

Telsima

Mobile system features a blade architecture that is designed

to meet the requirements of mobile WiMax including MIMO and beam forming

Reliance, VSNL

Airspan

Introduced an economical system in the 3.5 and 5.8 GHz

frequency bands that will allow operators or enterprises to deploy base

station and WiMax customer premise devices for the best price offered by any

vendor in the industry

Tulip

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Market Trends


The demand for broadband connectivity from urban homes and small and
medium businesses is growing rapidly. Wireless will be the dominant delivery

mode for broadband services just as it now dominates voice services. Thanks to

its true broadband performance, early availability and cost advantages, WiMax is

best positioned to serve the huge Indian market. Several Indian service

providers have already acquired suitable spectrum licenses to deploy wireless

broadband services.





The biggest advantage that

WiMax offers is a large network range spanning up to 10 km

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The innovative 'Village Entrepreneur' model, together with a net-enabled

community info-kiosk, is an ideal way to reach many who are not yet connected.

Telecom companies are working actively with state governments through Broadband

Wireless Association (BWA) / WiMax solutions that are tailor made for India at

price points that are comfortable for the Indian consumer.

Globally, there are around 200 WiMax trials, while it has been commercially

deployed in forty cities around the globe. In India, WiMax deployment is

beginning to take off-deployment in Chennai and trials in Bangalore, Kolkata,

New Delhi, and Mumbai have already started. The Pune Municipal Corporation has

recently announced a program called 'Unwiring Pune' to launch WiMax and Wi-Fi

services in Pune. BSNL's WiMax expansion drive to cover 1,000 cities in India is

also of relevance. India is expecting a final policy announcement by DoT on 3G

spectrum and broadband wireless access. BSNL has planned a tender for 1,000 base

transceivers in July and may begin deployment by September if a policy

announcement is made soon.

India will be one of the largest WiMax markets because WiMax is the most

cost-effective way to bridge the digital divide and bring broadband services to

those areas where there is no existing telecom infrastructure or the

infrastructure is not capable of providing broadband services. A huge percentage

of the Indian population does not have Internet access today; WiMax is the best

technology (lowest cost with best performance) to provide that access.

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Deploying WiMax in India will result in more people being able to access the

information that they want, anywhere, and anytime. For example, a businessman in

rural India may well find that new markets are open to him because he can access

the Internet where he is and finds new customers and suppliers. In India, the

ease and speed with which a mobile WiMax infrastructure can be built, combined

with the expected low cost of mobile WiMax end-user devices, will mean that

finally operators have a way to provide cost-effective broadband connectivity to

the mass market.

Broadband penetration in a market like the US is reaching saturation. So, the

focus on those markets are mobility based broadband access, increased value

added services, keeping running costs low, use of IMS for seamless service

provisioning, etc. However, in the US, two major operators-Sprint and Clearwire-are

committed to WiMax deployment.

Technology at the Fore



Apart from Alvarion, Aperto, Airspan and Telsima, players like
Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel, Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson, and ZTE are testing the waters

in the country.

Airspan Networks has introduced an economical 'get started' WiMax system in

the 3.5 and 5.8 Ghz frequency bands that will allow an operator or enterprise to

deploy a base station and WiMax customer premise devices for the best price

offered by any vendor in the WiMax industry. This system provides connectivity

at up to 10 Mbps in a small, compact package, which can be delivered and

installed within several weeks of order. Wi-Fi connectivity is also included in

the system.

The development of WiMax Wave2 in 2006-07 is also very important. Wave2

includes MIMO technology that allows WiMax to significantly increase its overall

system performance and throughput.

WiMax Gains

Operator

Vendor

Aircel

Aperto (2 cities)

Alvarion (8 cities)

Bharti

Aperto (8 cities)

Alvarion (15cities)

BSNL

Aperto (10 cities)

Reliance

Aperto (25 cities)

Telsima (25 cities)

VSNL

Aperto (85 cities)

Telsima (15cities)

Motion, which uses Alvarion's market leading BreezeMAX base stations, is

Alvarion's complete WiMax 802.16e-2005 solution portfolio for mobile WiMax

networks. It is commercially available today.

Alvarion is ready with mobile equipment in 2.3, 2.5 and 3.5 Ghz and they hope

that spectrum will be allocated by WPC in India very soon. During the second

quarter of the year, Alvarion will be launching mobile WiMax for the 3.3 Ghz

band.

Telsima has successfully conducted trials with major tier-1 operators in

India, and commercial deployments with operators with more than 400 sectors in

each account.

The C-Dot Alcatel-Lucent Research Center (CARC) has completed India's first

live WiMax IEEE 802.16e-2005 (also called Rev-e) field trial using Aircel's

licensed spectrum. Trials were conducted using the 2.5 Ghz band and demonstrated

applications in moving conditions such as video streaming, high-speed file

downloads, VoIP, and Web browsing.

Currently, Nortel is testing its WiMax solutions with a number of carriers

around the world. Its mobile WiMax solution is built on a foundation of

OFDM-MIMO, a combination of innovative transmission and antenna technologies

that maximize spectrum to deliver lightning-fast speeds and high bandwidth

essential for high-quality mobile video and TV.

Main Gains



Aperto Networks, developer of advanced WiMax base stations, and VSNL have
announced recently that VSNL has completed deployment of Aperto's PacketWAVE

multi-service broadband wireless systems in over 65 cities across the country.

This is part of an initial deployment phase with the goal of growing the network

to cover over 200 cities within 12 months. Aperto has recently won a major order

from Bharti too. Other main clients of Aperto include BSNL and Aircel.

Alvarion's customers in India include Aircel Business Solutions, subsidiary

of leading Indian cellular service provider Aircel, which is planning to use

Alvarion's WiMax equipment to build WiMax networks across fifty cities in

northern and eastern India. In addition, India's leading private telecom carrier

is also using Alvarion's fixed WiMax system for 3.3 Ghz to build WiMax network

across India. With deployments currently in eight cities, this operator is using

WiMax to augment its current broadband, fixed and cellular network

infrastructure to quickly offer affordable broadband data services to SMEs and

customers in new markets, and has plans to expand this network to more cities

throughout India. Other main client of Alvarion is Bharti.

Telsima, which is creating its own space in India, has bagged major order

from Reliance and VSNL. Airspan is closely working with Tulip. MRO-Tek has done

business to the tune of Rs 70 lakh.

Market Dynamics



 

n

 Broadband needs paved the way

for the growth of WiMax technology deployments with the total WiMax

equipment market touching Rs 88 crore during 2006-07







n
 Size of the certified market is

pegged at Rs 4.4 crore, while Rs 83.6 crore is the market size of

non-certified products







n
 Increased PC penetration, increased

content and e-commerce, probable saturation of the mobile market in the

next 2-3 years, need for a growth driver to the operator, and e-Governance

initiatives are main growth drivers







n
 The market is expected to grow to

Rs 132 crore during 2007-08, with certified equipment and non-certified

equipments equally sharing the market at Rs 66 crore each

Regulatory Bottlenecks



The anticipated growth in broadband will depend on too many factors
and the main hurdle on its way is regulatory issues pertaining to spectrum

allocation. Recently, senior executives from Intel, participants from Sprint

Nextel, COAI, and AUSPI came together to discuss the challenges that WiMAX is

facing in India.

According to their recommendations, the most suitable bands for broadband

wireless access is 2.3-2.4 Ghz (for mobile BWA such as WiMax), 2.5-2.69 Ghz (for

mobile BWA such as WiMax), 3.3-3.6 Ghz (for fixed/nomadic BWA such as WiMax) and

700 MHz (for future). They have also asked for 2.5-2.69 Ghz band to be made

available expeditiously on a 'technology neutral' basis. Operators should be

allowed the opportunity to choose the most appropriate technology, method of

operation (fixed, nomadic, mobile), etc to suit their business needs.

Ideally, Indian service providers should be able to deploy a technology,

which can maximize utilization of the spectrum. Spectral efficiency of the

technology needs to be considered while assigning the spectrum. WiMax is

spectrally more efficient compared to other competing technologies. The minimum

quantum of spectrum recommended per operator for BWA considering efficient

network deployment and business viability is 30 MHz.

India provides a huge opportunity for broadband growth. However, the future

of broadband is highly dependent on where the government wants to steer it. It

has placed the responsibility of driving broadband heavily on BSNL in rural

areas through WiMax. However, spectrum is a serious obstacle for massive

adoption of WiMax in the country, according to research firm Gartner, which

remains positive on the future of broadband in India. Also, the unbundling of

local loop would only give the much-required push in increasing broadband

penetration.

Baburajan K



baburajank@cybermedia.co.in

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