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WiMAX subscribers to reach 13M in India by 2012

Posted: 04 Jul 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WiMAX? wireless? broadband? internet? Maravedis?

There will be 13 million WiMAX subscribers in India by 2012 according to research firms Maravedis Research and Tonse Telecom, who partnered to produce a new research report on wireless market trends in the country.

According to the report, the Indian telecom market is rapidly increasing, and that mobile operators are falling behind the pace of subscriber growth despite network expansions. The Indian Ministry of Telecom seeks to enhance telephone penetration, and is said to be confident of reaching its targeted 250 million phones by 2007. Even with that, the national teledensity is expected to be less than 25 percent.

"More than 70 percent of Indian households do not have access to fixed wired telephone services," said Adlane Fellah, senior analyst with Maravedis. "Instead, customers have flocked to cellular phone carriers, which have built a tremendous infrastructure to provide service to more than 100 million customers."

The same trend is predicted for broadband wireless Internet access services such as WiMAX that will provide high-speed data services over a wireless data infrastructure.

"There is huge potential for broadband wireless Internet and VoIP services in India because there are still more than 600,000 villages with no basic communications services," said Sridhar Pai, CEO of Tonse Telecom. "From a mere 1.5 million connections today, the Indian broadband market will grow in the next six years to become potentially one of the top broadband wireless markets on the planet," added Sridhar.

Broadband services were launched in India in 2005. ADSL services currently cover 300 towns with 1.5 million connections, while broadband wireless subscriber figures are still negligible. In a country where monthly broadband ARPU is estimated at $8-10, and computer penetration is still at around 4 percent, broadband wireless access/WiMAX adoption will depend on very low cost end-to-end pricing for connectivity including the compute platform and CPE. The Indian telecom sector operates in a volume-driven market. If WiMAX is to succeed it will only be on the premise of huge volumes, not small deployments, said the report.

"Bharti TeleVentures, Reliance, BSNL and VSNL (Tata Group) have all acquired licenses in 3.3GHz range and are in various stages of trials and modest commercial deployments," revealed Felah. We've gathered evidence that larger deployments will start to materialize in early 2007 but volumes in the millions will take a few years to materialize. The planned release of additional spectrum will be critical to this."

Sridhar views shortage of spectrum as an obstacle for massive adoption of broadband wireless and WiMAX in India. "For WiMAX to prosper in India, license holders will need at least 20MHz of spectrum. They currently hold 12MHz or less."

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