The whole model of the Internet has changed, necessitating broadband for the common man

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

Among various broadband technologies, WiMax is expected to be one of the

most preferable to meet the needs of Indian users. The Global WiMax Forum

recently forecasted that by 2012, the Indian market would support 27.5 mn WiMax

users and 19 mn WiMax subscribers, constituting around 20% of the global WiMax

user-base. The WiMax Forum is a worldwide consortium focused on the global

adoption of WiMax and is chartered to establish certification processes that

achieve interoperability, publish technical specification based on recognized

standards, promote the technology, and pursue a favorable regulatory

environment. In an exclusive interaction with Voice&Data, Ron Resnick, president

and chairman of the WiMax Forum gives insights on the prospects of this

technology in India, and various trends and challenges in its adoption. Excerpts


It's been several years now since the WiMax Forum, through its various

channels and platforms, has been trying to convince operators in India. Where do

you think we have reached as of now?

Six years ago, there was not much interest in WiMax. During that time there

was no significant existence of broadband. Everything was dial-up. Broadband was

of interest mainly for the enterprises. The whole model of the Internet has

changed today which has necessitated broadband for the common man.

India requires a price effective business model. Earlier the market model was

not there but now things have changed. The recent announcement of the Department

of Telecom to auction WiMax spectrum in the 2.3 and 2.5 MHz band is a welcome

move. Ideally we would love to see some more spectrum but we are happy with the

overall progress. I believe the spectrum will be allocated soon, and it would be

fruitful for the overall development of the country. The Indian market and

operators are quite excited after the announcement and are ready to spend money

on the WiMax.


With fewer than 5 mn broadband subscribers, India lags behind most of its

counterparts in broadband growth. Do you think WiMax can actually help solve the

broadband problem in India?

Globally, all the countries have started to recognize the potential of

broadband. Governments of various countries have realized that broadband growth

can help an economy to grow tremendously. There are various studies available

that summarize the skyrocketing GDP growth of an economy.

WiMax is perfectly suited to the Indian needs. Its widespread access will

greatly increase economic productivity by becoming the cornerstone for important

initiatives such as distance learning, telemedicine and e-government. Also, it

can meet the India-specific requirements in a much more cost-effective manner.

The technology has the potential to carry out the challenging task of bridging

the rural-urban divide in a speedy and effective manner. Further more, robust

quality of service and low latency make this technology suited for real time

applications such as VoIP, online gaming, content streaming, etc.

What are your India-specific plans?

As I mentioned, India is a central point of WiMax growth. We are in the

process of planning a WiMax applications lab at the Indian Institute of

Technology. This will be the third lab of its kind-the other two are in Taiwan

and the US. The lab is set to add more diverseness as compared to the existing

labs. IIT Delhi has an operating WiMax test bed and serves as a Nonpareil

location to host this lab. The lab has been created with the support of DoT and

will focus on enhancing the quality of experience, and WiMax services for the

underserved areas. We look forward to explore various programs such as

telemedicine, distance learning and e-government through the creation of this

lab. We are building capacities to research and develop various such

applications in India.


What are your projections for the Indian market?

The WiMax Forum projects that the WiMax market, including devices, would be

worth $13 bn or Rs 52,000 crore by 2012. Also, there will be around 27.5 mn

WiMax users during that period in India. The global figure for the same period

is forecasted to reach to over 133 mn.

What are some global trends in WiMax deployments?

Currently, there are over 407 deployments of WiMax networks in more than 133

countries. Also, there are over 480 WiMax-enabled devices that are under

development by over 80 suppliers. WiMax is being deployed in the 2.5 GHz band in

countries like the US, Taiwan, Russia, Japan and Mexico. In 2.3 GHz, it has

already been deployed in countries such as Malaysia, South Korea, and Singapore

and is expected to be deployed in Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Thailand, etc.

Further, it has already recognized itself in the 3.5 GHz band with deployments

in most regions. By 2012, nearly 70% WiMax subscribers will utilize mobile and

portable WiMax devices to access broadband Internet services and the total user

number in India will overtake those in the US.

With technologies like HSPA also gaining wide acceptance among operators,

do you think WiMax growth will be flattened by it?

WiMax is an open Internet business model and has already established itself in
the 3.5 GHz band with deployments in every region. Also, the RoI for WiMax is

more than HSPA and other competitive technologies. Further, cellular base

technologies such as HSPA and LTE (long term evolution of 3G) are not at all a

threat. There are many price-effective devices coming in the WiMax space, and

the whole business model is a serious challenge for our competitors. There are

many competitors who don't want to see the auction take place. They are adopting

various tactics to delay the same.

While WiMax is already being deployed, LTE networks are new upgrades. The

necessity to connect the Indian rural population can only be met by WiMax, as

other competitive technologies will initially succeed in the metros. Considering

the market developments, WiMax would be the most preferable among other

alternate technologies, particularly in developing economies. It can really act

as a great enabler to fulfill the needs of broadband in India

Jatinder Singh