WiMAX backers tout advantages in India

The WiMAX Forum and its member operators and vendors descended on India last week touting the technology's economies of scale advantage during the WiMAX India 2010 conference as the winners of India's recent $8.56 billion wireless broadband auction mull their technology options--WiMAX or TD-LTE.

The Indian market is front and center on the agenda of the WiMAX Forum these days. Certainly, the long-term success of the technology will be heavily influenced by the decisions of newly licensed wireless broadband operators there as India represents a market that will easily ramp up several million wireless broadband subscribers within a matter of a few years. If WiMAX supported some 40 million subscribers in that country, the technology is assured a long life. TD-LTE backers such as Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM)--which won licenses with plans to deploy TD-LTE in India--have been urging operators to deploy TD-LTE. The question is whether operators can afford to wait for TD-LTE.

WiMAX Forum President and Chairman Ron Resnick urged licensees to adopt a flexible network architecture, presumably meaning that operators have the option of deploying WiMAX today and migrating to TD-LTE when the technology is more mature. He stressed that 149 countries including India are now offering commercial WiMAX services including mobile WiMAX.

The forum received a boost from India's Department of Telecom Secretary and Telecom Commission Chairman P.J. Thomas: "The mobile revolution is now rolling and WiMax will accelerate it," he said. "With prices of both equipment and devices falling day by day, the access would become affordable to the rural people."

Dr. P.S. Tang, managing director of Malaysia's WiMAX operators Packet One, indicated that a WiMAX VoIP phone that costs $50 today would soon cost $35. Meanwhile, Puneet Garg, vice president, technical, with Indian WiMAX operator Bharti Airtel, indicated that new technology developments enable a single base station to connect several villages, resulting in lower capital costs.  

Motorola's (NYSE:MOT) head of home and networks mobility Subhendu Mohanty indicated the prices of devices and equipment are falling, which will enable operators to offer low-cost connectivity. Samsung's Dr. Hung Song, vice president of Samsung, showed off several small WiMAX modems capable of transforming laptops, cell phones and other electronics into WiMAX-enabled devices.

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