Service providers will significantly benefit from sharing active infrastructure

What kind of applications on WiMax do you foresee emerging over the next
few years?
Applications covering the entire range of business and e-commerce-related
services, access to enterprise applications for improving employee productivity,
high-speed Internet access, triple play, and high-quality entertainment
applications are among many more that will now be possible to be delivered on
WiMax-based wireless broadband networks. This will provide a whole suite of new
user experiences besides providing new revenue sources for service providers.

Once the spectrum allocation issues are sorted out, what are the
next-level concerns to be addressed?
Other ecosystem-related factors influencing the uptake of broadband
applications and services include the education levels of citizens, the
availability of affordable PCs or laptops, and the availability of local
language-based content services. Affordability of such applications is very low
for the rural population; hence subsidy for the deployment of broadband network
in rural locations will play a key role in bridging the digital divide between
urban and rural locations.

Do you think competition from 3G and Wi-Fi is an issue?
The use of different technology options and their coexistence should be
evaluated in the context of a particular market and its dynamics. The existing
GSM and CDMA cellular service providers in India can benefit from WiMax by using
it as a complementary technology for their network expansion.

By leveraging the spectrum-efficient radio access and IP-core networks of
WiMax, operators will be able to cost-effectively dedicate their 3G spectrum for
circuit-based voice and medium-end data services, while using WiMax to coexist
and deliver large broadband IP-based multimedia to improve end user experience
and better their own profit margins in the process too. Thats because WiMax can
deliver high-speed data at substantially lower costs.

Low cost of deployment holds the key to the success of WiMax in India.
What are the business models that can help achieve this?
Infrastructure costs, spectrum charges, cost of CPEs, and backhaul cost are
major factors in driving lower cost of ownership of the WiMax network. A unique
advantage for service providers in India is the option of co-locating the new
WiMax cell sites at their existing GSM/CDMA sites, which can help reduce the
cost of deployment of the WiMax network.

WiMax 802.16e is a spectrum-efficient technology, and can offer very high
capacity from a given cell site, which can be used for all applications like
fixed, nomadic, and mobile broadband services. Service providers will
significantly benefit from sharing the active infrastructure (WiMax sites and
existing backhaul) to be able to offer low cost broadband services to the end

In order to provide low cost service to the rural audience, there is a
push for spectrum charges to be based on revenue sharing and not on factors like
the number of subscribers. Whats your opinion?
Currently, spectrum charges for wireless broadband services are based on
annual charges for each BTS and CPE deployment. This is not consumer friendly,
as these charges result in high cost overheads for service providers, especially
for the rural market with lower user penetration per BTS.

The regime for spectrum charges for broadband services is different from the
revenue sharing-based spectrum charges that are applicable for mobile telephony
services, which has helped service providers to offer competitive low cost
pricing to the end consumer. Hence, it is highly recommended that spectrum
charges for broadband data services be aligned to the consumer-friendly revenue
sharing model.

Shipra Malhotra

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