Friday, November 14, 2008

Making ‘MAX’ sense of connectivity...

The WiMAX technology is expected to revolutionise connectivity as it is known today...

Shyam Kaushal, Director, WIMAX Forum (India)

Analysts say that WiMAX is overhyped. Do you agree?
I think that it is not an overhype. The 3G people are talking about their platform for the last 5 years. They are doing it, because they are afraid that WiMAX will have the first mover advantage. 3G is a communication technology extended to data whereas WiMAX is a data-centric technology. India has a large market; the target of 20 million by 2010 is actually nothing compared to the potential 1.2 billion people. So, I don’t think there is any hype about WiMAX. To be honest, we should be doing more publicity.

On the size of investment needed both globally and in India.
Investment in global telecom sector is about $24 billion. Over the next 2-4 years, about half a billion dollars are expected to be invested in India for WiMAX.

Mission & challenges of the forum in India.
It is to support private companies, the government and the people of India to enjoy the benefits of WiMAX. The emerging technology promises to deliver wireless broadband services to rural and urban areas. The foremost challenge are the spectrum availability, which is under resolution by relevant government authorities and the price sensitivity of Indian market, especially residential.

Is WiMAX a substitute for Wi-Fi? Why is it a disruptive technology?
No, while WiMAX provides the last mile connectivity, Wi-Fi is a technology which operates in an unlicensed standard of 2.4 GHZ. It is meant for a small area. My laptop has got a built-in Wi-Fi chip. The forthcoming new laptops will have WiMAX-enabled chips. So in the future, consumers will buy devices like laptops, PDAs with a plan like that for mobile connections now. With WiMAX, one can use the same laptop everywhere, whether at home or office. That is a great advantage and which is why it is called a ‘disruptive technology’. We will start looking at the way we handle the broadband very differently.

Why is India slow in adapting WiMAX?
This is simply because of a lack of spectrum being released by the Government. Devices are already available, operators and vendors are there in place. Once WiMAX technology is in proper action, the operators will use innovative ideas for profits and consumers will benefit from better services. Therefore, everything is really waiting for the spectrum allocation.

With Telsima Communications, will Tata succeed?
Yes, Tata will be successful in its endeavour. It will not face any hurdles except spectrum availability. Besides this, Tata Communications is very competitive and Telsima is a very competent vendor on its part. Both of them have all the end-to-end solutions in place.

Who will be the biggest player of WiMAX in India?
I think BSNL would be a prominent player. Reliance Communications, Tata Communications, Bharti, Aircel, MTNL will also be important. BSNL has been chosen for rolling out India’s WiMAX network. WiMAX is being deployed in six major cities already. BSNL is deploying ten base stations in the first phase including rural districts in Haryana.

Will the quality of services be a major issue of concern?
The quality of the service and the speed will be assured; this is because WiMAX ensures that only ‘certified’ products are in the market. We have a certification process in a very open manner where you have to send the products through a series of tests like Radio Performance testing and Interoperability testing. We only have open standards and have no IPR (Intellectual Property Right) issues. So, I hope we would meet the quality standards with WiMAX.

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Source : IIPM Editorial, 2008

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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