‘CDMA is still evolving whereas GSM is a close-end technology’

Vijay K
Gupta,
director,
business development, (Asia), Lucent Technologies Asia-Pacific

Instrumental
in bagging almost all the CDMA deals on the private front, Vijay K Gupta,
director, business development (Asia), Lucent Technologies Asia Pacific,
has made Lucent the leading telecom vendor in a short duration of two
years. In his current role, Gupta is expected to expand Lucent’s
business in Asia and India. Prior to this, he was president and CEO of
Lucent Technologies (India).

His impressive performance has helped the company bag the largest telecom
deal in the country–that of Reliance Infocomm for around 3 million CDMA
lines. Prior to joining Lucent, he was president and member of board of
Reliance Telecom, which helped Lucent in bagging the largest telecom deal
in the country. He also worked for a period of about 10 years with Lucent
Technologies through its JVs with Tata Industries–Tata Lucent
Technologies, and Tata Telecom, and has around 30 years of experience in
the field of electronics and telecommunications.

Vijay K Gupta spoke to VOICE&DATA about the CDMA market, technology,
and the applications, in the Indian context. Excerpts:

What do you feel about the CDMA market in India and how much growth are
you expecting from this market?
I am very optimistic about the Indian market, as it is very strong and
growing. The Indian market provides a lot of value for the operators as well as
customers. This creates a positive impact on the growth of the market and we are
constantly seeing that happening in the country.

The wireless market in the country has been growing at the rate of 80 percent
and I see no reason why wireless market will not continue to grow. This fast
growth will also benefit CDMA, as people do not care about technology and are
more bothered about good quality of service. In terms of capacity, Tata and
Reliance commission most of the CDMA infrastructure. Also, there is enhancement
of some of our CDMA networks deployed in Shyam Telelink, Tata Teleservices (AP),
and HFCL Infotel. Since the last six months, CDMA is emerging as a significant
service, as it provides good quality of coverage and capacity.



How do you compare the two wireless technologies–CDMA and GSM, and which
one is better?

GSM lobby talks about GSM being cheaper whereas CDMA lobby talks about CDMA
being cheaper. In the semi-urban areas, CDMA works out to be cheaper than GSM
for similar quality (capacity and coverage), whereas in the urban areas that
difference reduces. CDMA users also have an advantage of high data rates of up
to 144 kbps, without hogging extra spectrum.

CDMA is still evolving whereas GSM is a close-end technology. On the GSM
front, if one has to move to 2.5G (GPRS), one has to add GPRS backbone. If one
moves to 3G technology in GSM, one has to opt for a new system and a completely
new spectrum. On the other hand, CDMA service providers can opt for IS-95
A/IS-95 B, with speeds ranging from 14.4 kbps to 64 kbps, 3G 1X for speeds of up
to 144 kbps, and 3G 1X EV-DO for speeds of up to 3 Mbps. Thus, in the long run,
it works out to be cheaper for the consumer.

What are the factors for the growth of CDMA in the country?
The growth of CDMA in the country will depend on a number of factors. These
are the price at which this service will be available, regulation, availability
of the handsets and new services (like SMS for teenagers), and how quickly these
services evolve and gain acceptability in the country.

What are the killer applications that will make an impact in the Indian
scenario?
The enterprise market will be an amazing market, as currently, people cannot
communicate easily and efficiently while on the move. At present, it is as
cumbersome process as one connects to the ISP and then to the corporate VPN,
using a PCMCIA card. On the CDMA front, using a PCMCIA card with an antenna on
it, one can receive faxes, voicemail, and e-mail on the PC. Currently, the 3G 1X
PCMCIA card costs $150 and the price will keep on falling with the increase in
demand for these gadgets. People on the move can now communicate through their
laptops and CDMA phones and that is going to be the biggest market, as one is
connected to his or her enterprise, irrespective of geographies and distance.
Even for consumers to stay in touch, CDMA opens up many new areas. By using a
camera phone, one can not only communicate what he/she is doing at that point of
time but can also send pictures. One can do multimedia messaging irrespective of
distance. Using additional infrastructure, one can use location-based service
and browse the Internet.

The merging of wireless with high-capacity digital storage media has given
birth to new gadgets like memory stik and smart media. The trend is that digital
devices (called memory devices) can store images that can be sent back and forth
along with voice communication.

What is the actual bandwidth that a consumer gets by using CDMA 2000 1x,
considering the fact that GPRS promises a bandwidth of 50 kbps but what one gets
is less is in the range of 15-20 kbps?

GPRS is troubled by technology limitations. This is not the case with CDMA 2000
1x. Since it uses the IP pipe, one gets all the advantages of IP as it is
packetized and the same data speed can be expected. However, it has all the
problems related to IP.

In India, there has been a long-drawn debate on the deployment of air
interface like V5.2 technology or A plus technology. What is your viewpoint on
this aspect?
The operator should be allowed to choose the technology and allowed to offer
all services to its consumers. All interfaces have their own advantages and
disadvantages. The technology should offer services and good return on
investment. And if any technology can do it, there should not be any
restrictions. Service providers have deployed A plus or V5.2 interfaces
depending on the services being offered. The cost of deployment of these two
interfaces will depend on the service that is being offered to the consumers.

Service providers have been talking about deployment of fixed wireless
terminal along with WLL (M) phones in the country. What would be the ratio of
fixed wireless to WLL (M) phones in the country?
Fixed wireless is dead but it is okay for certain applications like PCO
operations and any other application that is compulsory due to regulation. In
the 90s, fixed wireless terminals were more in demand, as copper and mobile
handsets were bulky to carry. But now when lighter phones with reduced prices
(from $400 to $40) are available, one would like to go for such phones, as these
phones are easy to use.

Lucent has done pretty well on the CDMA front in India. Any investment
plans for the Indian market?
We have been fairly successful and continue to do well in the Indian market.
We are optimistic about the Indian market and have been investing a lot in
India.

Pravin Prashant

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