More than 10 cities and about 25,000 villages will be covered by broadband connections powered by wireless-based WiMAX technology in a year’s time, with leading telecom and Internet players lining up ambitious forays.
Reliance, Tata Communications, Bharti and Internet operators Sify and Dishnet Wireless among others are planning to roll out WiMAX services that ride on wireless waves with a range of up to 30 miles at high speed.
The country’s target for broadband connectivity is 9 million by 2007 and 20 million by 2010. According to the telecom regulator, India’s total broadband subscribers base had reached only 2.67 million by the end of September.
Tata Communications, formerly state-owned Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited, plans to have broadband on WiMAX in about 10 to 12 cities by March 2008. Reliance Communications will roll out WiMAX in 10 to 12 cities by the same time. Last month, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) also invited expressions of interest to help roll out WiMAX-based broadband in rural areas and is expected to launch services across cities in 2008. It has floated a tender to roll out wireless broadband in 25,000 villages.
"A considerable amount of our capital expenditure of $500 mn for this year will be earmarked for the WiMAX broadband rollout,: said Srinivas Addapalli, Vice President, strategy at Tata Communications.
“In less than a quarter since the launch in June , we have acquired more that 10,000 customers through WiMax deployment in Pune and Banglore and now expect to repeat our success in Mumbai and Delhi,” said a spokesman at Reliance Communications.
"WiMAX is likely to increase broadband penetration by 7 to 10 per cent of the total target in the first two years”, says Mallikarjun Rao, Director – WiMAX Business at Canada-based Nortel Networks, which makes equipment that help roll out WiMAX.
Service providers have carried out all the pilot projects for WiMAX services on 3.3 GHz bands, which will offer only services to fixed points like homes, but not to mobile customers such as those who carry laptop computers.
Early this week, the Department of Telecommunications announced the 2.5 GHz band for mobile WiMAX services. DoT plans to hold auctions for releasing spectrum from this band.
WiMAX broadband will support data speeds of up to 70 megabits per second (mbps). In India, the standard which is defined as broadband speed is currently at 512 kbps, while the same is offered at 2 mbps in other countries.