Interview

WiMAX : Answer for Last Mile Solution : C S Rao, WiMAX Forum India, India

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“It is advisable that the government speeds up the auction process for the spectrum and completes the process by end of November 2008” says C S Rao, Chairman, WiMAX Forum India  in a conversation with Nilakshi Barooah of egov magazine

With the 3G policy and the release of 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum announced by the government recently, there will be high broadband penetration and expansion of WiMAX technologies. What is your take on the policy?

We are really glad that the  Department of Telecommunications (DoT) of India recently announced the 3G policy and the release of 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz spectrum for use with WiMAX as these are globally harmonised bands. We have interacted with the government and they have very well responded. It has been realised that broadband penetration is the need of the hour. We are happy that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the government has recognised that we have to fall in line with the 2.5 and 2.3 GHz as a band which is globally recognised.

It is advisable that the government speeds up the auction process for the spectrum and completes the process by end of November 2008. We have recommended the government to give 30 MHz per operator. If the spectrum allocation per operator is less than this, one can not expect broadband penetration to happen in a economic way helping the end user services to be affordable. It is fortunate that the government understands the need and importance of broadband, especially on a wireless network. This essentially means for the end users that the devices will get cheaper and call tariffs will be lower if Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) policy allows 30 MHz per operator in multiples of 10 MHz. However, 20MHz is a good start for now. It is also recommended that there should be at least three 3 to four 4 operators for bringing in healthy competition in the market. 

The base reserve price for the auction of BWA spectrum should be low. We should keep in mind that the broadband subscribers will never be as huge as the GSM /CDMA/3G based voice subscribers base. Even the best of the countries in terms of broadband subscriptions  such as Korea and USA has about 70 per cent and 45 per cent wireless broadband subscriptions compared to the wireless voice subscriber base. For any broadband to success we need to have Personal Computer (PC) penetration. With this comes the question of PC affordability, PC literacy and Content availability. 

There is a shift from voice to more multimedia centric information access, sharing and instant upload/down load of such multimedia information on wireless. Applications such as webcasting, online education, webinar are becoming very common across various sections of the population. These applications require high bandwith which the current hitherto known as broadband is unable to provide. End consumers wants ease of use and access from anywhere and any time through any kind of media such as

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