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The connectivity wars

The WiMax and HSPA systems are slugging it out in India. The goal: to become the wireless standard for data carriage. What are they? And what do they have for you?

Bibek Bhattacharya        Print Edition: April 20, 2008

WiMAX

 Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access is the technology that allows you to surf the net wirelessly. It is a telecommunications technology that can carry data across long distances using either point-to-point links or full mobile access. It operates on the IEEE 802.16 standard, which is a working group on Broadband Wireless Access Standards set up in 1999. WiMAX is designed to extend local Wi-Fi networks over great distances.

What's so great about it?

WiMax base stations are supposed to provide great wireless connectivity for up to 50 km. This one of its USPs.

How is it doing on the ground?

Intel, which is backing WiMAX systems, has deployed a pilot project got its "World Ahead" programme in Baramati in Maharashtra. Commercially, Reliance Communications and VSNL have implemented WiMax-based commercial deployments in Bangalore. But WiMax services are not available in India for telecom purposes.

What is happening elsewhere in the world?

WiMAX is facing problems in several countries. Australia's forst WiMAX operator, Buzz Broadband, shut its operations a little over a year after rolling it out, calling WiMAX a disaster. The main sticking point: WiMAX's connectivity over long distance is not as great as its backers claim.

How much does it cost?

According to industry estimates, WiMAX is a low-cost solution. User-end equipment needed for WiMAX connectivity (also known as Customer Premise Equipment) in India costs only Rs 1,600.

HSPA

High Speed Packet Access is a technology that is identical to WiMAX. It is, in effect, a collection of mobile telephony protocols that provide better performance over existing radio brandwidth. This is a 3.5G technology and facilities download speeds of 3.6 Mbps or more, with a possible peak download speed of an astonishing 7.2 Mbps.

What's so great about it?

In one word—speed. HSPA technology offers great download speeds. Apart from that, thanks to wide-scale deployment across several countries, it comes with a proven ability to perform extremely well.

How is it doing on the ground?

What does this fight mean for consumers?

Apart from high speed internet access, it substantially increases data speeds for applications like online gaming, streaming video and video conferencing.

HSPA is backed heavily by leading equipment vendors like Ericsson, Nokia-Siemens Networks, Nortel, Alcateland Lucent and also handset makers like Nokia and Sony Ericsson, so, it would seem to have more clout in the market place. It is also the preferred technology of the GSM association. But the 3G imbroglio means HSPA networks cannot be rolled out unless they are used for broadband only and not for telephony .

What is happening elsewhere in the world?

HSPA systems have had more sucsess and it has been deployed in over 5o countries on 150 networks. To give you an idea, subscribers in places like Hong Kong can already watch steaming High Definition movies at 1 Mbps.

How much does it cost?

It is even cheaper. In countries with HSPA  coverage, broadband pricing is approaching fixed pricing. Maxis in Mlaysia offers 3.6Mbps services with a 3 GB cap for $32 (Rs 1,280) per month.

EMobility: What the workforce wants in the new converged world

This new world, in which business users can interact with customers, employees, assets, products, and other businesses in real time is defined as EMobility. The EMobility industry is on the cusp of a fundamental shift that will lower barriers to market entry, drive growth, and require innovation to retain and grow market share.

 

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Globally, almost 50 per cent of employees spend more than 40 per cent of their time out of the office. A recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit showed that 20 per cent of employees in a wide variety of industries are mobile workers, defined as those who spend at least a day week working away from their offices.

A recent PwC survey in 27 countries reveals savvy, security conscious users-whose familiarity with and usage of converged services and technologies are well established-are set to grow quickly.

Approximately 75 per cent of respondents work out of the office some or all of the time and 92 per cent have mobile phones.

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