Telsima, Sequans capitalizing on Indian WiMAX market

WiMAX infrastructure/solutions provider Telsima and chip vendor Sequans are two companies to watch during this week's WiMAX World conference in Chicago. The two have been relatively quiet but are now breaking out with some big announcements that are sure to lift their profile in the WiMAX industry.

Telsima, a relative unknown in the WiMAX industry, announced contracts with Tier-1 operators and said it will ship a total of 10,000 WiMAX base stations and 100,000 subscriber stations in 2007. Telsima revealed its equipment already is installed in commercial WiMAX networks for Tier-1 operators in emerging markets, including Tata-VSNL and Reliance Communications.

The company, with more than $100 million in equity and credit, is solely focusing on emerging markets, primarily India, with the goal of enabling operators in these markets to offer broadband wireless service for $10 per month. Burcak Beser, Telsima's chief technology officer, told me the company is winning these contracts for three primary reasons: Telsima is only focused on emerging markets, its StarMAX product line is cheaper than competitors when capex and opex are added together and Telsima's infrastructure is forward compatible and allows operators to add functionality incrementally.

Telsima's Trufle access service network (ASN) architecture is the main reason operators can offer WiMAX service at $10 per month, Beser said. The architecture is built around off-the-shelf switches and routers with no need for a mobile IP stack. The ASN architecture also supports both fixed WiMAX and mobile WiMAX subscribers. Not every subscriber needs mobility, said Beser, so an operator can save on opex costs by only providing mobile services to those customers who need it.

"Mobile IP is much harder to manage than a flat non-mobile IP network," Beser said. "If you are using the radio most optimally, then you don't pay the overhead of the core infrastructure."

Sequans is reaping the benefits of Telsima's momentum as the vendor is using Sequans' chips in its StarMAX product line, in both subscriber products and base stations. Sequans is also announcing today a deal with Alvarion to supply the vendor with mobile WiMAX base station chips. As I noted in August, Alvarion, historically strong in the fixed WiMAX market, is now gaining momentum in the mobile WiMAX market.

Sequans has been working in the shadow of competitor Beceem, which has scored some high-profile wins with Samsung and Motorola--two major suppliers for Sprint's mobile WiMAX rollout. According to Bernard Aboussouan, Sequans' vice president of marketing and business development, the chip maker's main advantage is its ability to deliver high data throughput with about 1/3 of the power of competitors, a key requirement for those operators wanting to save opex costs. To date, Sequans has 25 customers, with only about half announced.

Given the fact that the Indian market is set to become the largest WiMAX market in the world, we could very well see Telsima and Sequans gain some significant momentum.--Lynnette