Sunday, 20 July 2008

WiMAX Technology in India

WiMAX, or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a wireless telecommunications technology capable of providing data over long distances in a variety of ways, from point-to-point links to offering full mobile cellular access. It is also known as wireless broadband and fits between wireless LANs, such as 802.11, and wireless WANs (wide-area networks), such as the cellular networks.
It is a cost effective and viable solution of wireless transmission based on the IEEE standard 802.16 that stands for worldwide interoperability for microwave access. Aiming to be a vendor/ carrier, independent service where different equipment manufactures can communicate with each other easily the WiMAX Forum is a non-profit agency responsible for bringing WiMAX to the light of the day. 

WiMAX started making its rounds in India first in early 2005 and after a whole lot of talking and speculations, it looks set for a rollout now. Though the deployment will be relatively limited with majority of the big Telco's involved, things should only get better. The arrival of WiMAX in India couldn't have been more appropriate, for it seemes that wired Brodband DSL is very slow to penetrate in India. The main problem is the last mile. Last mile of BSNL and MTNL is so old and poor quality that it is not fit for fast speeds beyond 1GB required so much for the future triple/quadruple play services. Cable TV networks could solve the problem of the last mile and could also help taking the fiber to the home but the government is still not decided on how best to utilize them. Restructuring regulations are yet to come. India has already proved to be the fastest growing telecom market in the world and given the geographical and economic constraints of a developing nation, WiMAX seems essential to fuelling the nation's determination to advance into the future. 
WiMax in India is seen as means of solving the last mile connectivity problem. 70% of the population in the country is still rural in nature. It is hard to foresee how the Internet and other media will make its way when even the basic means of communication like telephone lines are absent. The only networks that spread-out in the rural areas are the Cable TV networks of the small operators which are yet to be integrated with the telecom networks for the broadband services. But that is just the sort of promise WiMAX seems to resolve. DoT (Department of Telecommunication) India has so far released licensed spectrum to BSNL, while rest of the private sector firms are trailing and working under unlicensed frequencies. According to sources, Reliance Communications already rolled out WiMAX to its customers in Pune, Bangalore and Mumbai, They used 2.4-2.5 GHz for trial purposes and are currently operational under 3.3GHz frequency. Reliance currently has 150 base stations set up for Mumbai alone. Several manufacturers like Huawei, Samsung, and Motorola are among the big names for the CPE manufacturing. Reliance is very optimistic of winning the government support and expects a nation wide rollout on course by the year-end. WiMAX is currently being offered at 1 mbps, and topping out l0 mbps, a phenomenal increase over the standard broadband bandwidth of 256 kbps. The installation time for a WiMAX takes about 3 days, with a day kept aside for feasibility study and the following days configuring the end users machine to the network.
Intel is interested in building wireless infrastructure in India specifically in rural areas. It will be collaborating with local carriers such as Airtel and Reliance on pilot projects in several regions.

Major Players
Intel is interested in building wireless infrastructure in India specifically in rural areas. It will be collaborating with local carriers such as Airtel and Reliance on pilot projects in several regions according to the press release issued by the companies. 
Tata Communications, formerly known as VSNL has announced its plans to expand its network in the next year. Over half of their expenditure will be on a WiMAX network that will cover 15 cities by 2009. At present their WiMAX services are available only in Bangalore. 
Alcatel from France will roll out WiMax services throughout India by the end of this year and has initiated development of mobile WiMax products. Last September Delhi-based Center for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) and Alcatel set up a research center in Chennai, where the two partners designed and developed products conforming to the IEEE 802.16e mobile WiMax standard. The lab that is owned 51 percent by Alcatel and 49 percent by C-DOT will focus on the testing and development of pre-integrated customer specific solutions. The strategy is to provide end-to-end solutions including low cost WiMax CPEs suitable for Indian consumer needs and other emerging markets. The technology offers customized WiMax infrastructure solutions for the existing networks. Besides the association with C-DoT, Alcatel has a prior alliance with Intel, for development and delivery of Wimax equipment. 
Beceem Communications, co-founded by Stanford’s Paulraj, has been a key contributor to the IEEE 802.16e standard chip sets in Bangalore backed by companies like NTT Do Como, Samsung, and Intel. BSNL has chosen US vendor SOMA Networks to supply 802.16e network infrastructure for the rollout, projected to eventually cover a service area of more than 200 million people in 400 towns and cities in the next three years.

WiMAX- A Threat to C-Band
WiMAX and fixed satellite services (FSS) cannot co-exist in the same C-band spectrum. The Satellite Users Interference Reduction Group’s (SUIRG) latest field tests on the compatibility of FSS and WiMAX services sharing the C-band spectrum have demonstrated conclusively that WiMAX poses a significant interference threat to existing satellite signals transmitted in the C-band frequency.
Said Robert Ames, president of SUIRG, since the results of the latest tests conducted at end-2007 were made public, they have generated a lot of buzz in the industry. SUIRG, a US-based non-profit association comprising both private and public sector satellite organisations, is dedicated to combating the increasing and costly problem of satellite radio-frequency interferences. 
The primary objective of the latest tests was to measure interference levels caused by fixed WiMAX transmissions to an FSS satellite receiving station. The tests included taking measurements of C/N (carrier/noise), I/N (interference/noise), BER (bit error rate), and spectrum plots of a satellite downlink video channel.
SUIRG said the test results showed that the WiMAX signals, even at a distance of 12km, could cause the BER to degrade from a nominal 10-8 to a BER of 10-4. SUIRG declared that this is an unacceptable level of interference. 
These tests conducted by SUIRG revalidated the previous test results on the non-feasibility of C-band spectrum being shared between FSS satellite systems and WiMAX services in the 3.4-4.2GHz band. Having the FSS and WiMAX in the same spectrum would also impact the I/N levels. A minimum separation of 50km to 200km may be required in order to maintain 10dB reduction in noise-interference level. 
In India, so far the problem is not seen seriously. The industry may have to device some methods of warding off this interference. Earlier, the perception was that only the extended C-Band frequencies will be interfered. However, now it is confirmed that the complete C-Band will suffer. 
While the satellite industry looks at the technical aspect of sharing the C-band with WiMAX, the WiMAX side talks about the financial gains of being allowed to use the spectrum. Ultimately, it is the I&B Ministry Vs the IT & Communication Ministry.


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