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WiMAX boom?

Yes, but it won’t be before 2009, says Gartner.

     Print Edition: April 20, 2008

India is likely to have 6.9 million mobile and fixed WiMAX connections by the end of 2011, says IT research and advisory firm Gartner. The firm estimates that currently there are about 35,000 WiMAX connections in the country.

WiMAX, short for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a technology aimed at carrying wireless data over long distances in a variety of ways, from point-to-point links to full mobile cellular-type access.

Gartner, however, believes that the major growth in WiMAX will happen only after 2009. According to the research agency, even though the Indian government is pushing for WiMAX as a technology for connecting rural areas with broadband services, the government has failed to effectively motivate operators to roll out country-wide mobile broadband.

“As a result, we believe that WiMAX will largely be a niche technology and be restricted to enterprise and high-end residential users in urban India,” says Nareshchandra Singh, Principal Research Analyst, Gartner. Gartner also blames low PC penetration for the limited demand for WiMAX services.

India had only 3.4 million broadband subscribers, way below the 9 million target for 2007 set by the broadband policy. As mobile frequencies are not available in the short term, Gartner does not expect mobile WiMAX rollouts to be available on a large scale before 2009.

“The ecosystem for WiMAX services is much poorer compared to competing technologies like 3G,” says Singh. Gartner advises carriers to focus on the enterprise market and high-end residential subscribers. Overall, the long-term potential of the Indian WiMAX market heavily relies on spectrum allocation, WiMAX ecosystem maturation, and the timeliness of WiMAX and 3G licences, says Gartner.

T.V. Mahalingam

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