WiMAX in India Remains a Puzzle- will it be usurped by TD-LTE?

We’ve written about the huge potential for WiMAX in India for many years, but we still don’t see any broad committment by Indian mobile operators to the technology.  Last year, the Indian government raised over Rs 38,300 crore through the auction of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum which was expected to be used to deploy mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e-2005).  However, none of the network operators in India has yet made a formal announcement on their plans for offering BWA services or the chosen technology.

Reliance Infotel (the only company with a pan-India license) is doing trials using TD-LTE technology.  So it was anticipated that other operators might also opt for the same technology, but none have announced their intentions to date.

The WiMAX Forum has said they are “not threatened” by TD-LTE, as the market is big enough for both technologies to co-exist.  WiMAX Forum Director of Marketing Declan Byrne recently stated, “We are not threatened by the (TD-LTE) technology. We are actually delivering mobile broadband, while TD-LTE is still under trial. My request to the TD-LTE camp is — this is a big market, let us cooperate to serve it well.  We are hearing a very positive response. Operators are testing equipments (in India) and we remain positive on the market here.”

Yet it remains to be seen whether the companies would deploy TD-LTE, WiMAX or a hybrid-type network (supporting WiMAX in the initial stage with a migration path to TD-LTE).


Closing Comment:  Despite the steady growth in India’s mobile subscriber base to over 700 mn, broadband segment remains an area of concern. Although broadband uptake has increased in couple of years yet the penetration level is just 0.74%, lowest in the world. With an increasing focus on wireless broadband it is more likely to present a huge opportunity for all stakeholders in the value chain-operators, Internet service providers, equipment, manufacturers and value added service providers.  This is why India has so much untapped potential for mobile and fixed wireless access!


January 2011 WiMAX Forum Industry report:


Here is a map of Global WiMAX deployments (somewhat difficult to decipher, IMHO).  WiMAX Forum cautions the reader:

“Please note that the numbers below do not necessarily represent total WiMAX networks in existence, but rather the total deployments that we currently track.”