'India to have 6.9 Mn WiMAX connections by the end of 2011'

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, 27 March 2008, 04:59 Hrs
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Bangalore: Gartner, the global IT research and advisory firm, predicted that India will have 6.9 million mobile and fixed Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) connections by the end of 2011. Gartner cautioned that India will remain a niche market for this technology until 2009. Although the Indian government is strongly promoting WiMAX as a technology to connect the country with broadband services, the country-specific mobile broadband framework makes a nationwide rollout of WiMAX cost prohibitive.

Although presented as an important driver for broadband policy in India, the Indian government has failed to effectively motivate operators to roll out country-wide mobile broadband. WiMAX has been selected by the Indian government to connect rural areas to the Internet. However, low PC penetration will lead to limited demand.

Naresh Singh, principal research analyst, Gartner says, "By January 2008, India had only 3.4 million broadband subscribers, far short of the target of 9 million by 2007 set by the broadband policy. Given the low levels of PC penetration in India, there will be a limited demand for WiMAX and the country-specific mobile broadband framework makes a nationwide rollout of WiMAX cost prohibitive. Hence, in the near term, WiMAX is still a niche technology and limited to enterprise and high-end residential users in urban India."

As mobile frequencies will not be available in the short term, Gartner does not expect mobile WiMAX rollouts to be available at larger scales before 2009. Therefore, most WiMAX connections in the short and mid-term will be for nomadic or fixed wireless applications.

While the government policy proposes extensive rural coverage using WiMAX, Gartner believes that due to the limitations of the spectrum allocation, the only deployment for a sustained business case is to bring WiMAX broadband (point-to-point 802.16-2004) to rural centers in villages or schools, hospitals and so on.

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