Intel Plans India WiMAX Trials

Intel plans to start WiMax trials in the next few months in several cities across India including in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Pune, the Daily News & Analysis reports. “We are also having a dozen trial discussions for the implementation of WiMax networks in India,” Ramamurthy Sivakumar, Intel’s Managing Director for South Asia, told the newspaper.

According to a report by research firms Maravedis and Tonse Telecom India will have 13 million WiMAX subscribers by 2012.  “More than 70 per cent of Indian households do not have access to fixed wired telephone services,” said Adlane Fellah, senior analyst, Maravedis in a press release late June. “Instead, customers have flocked to cellular phone carriers, which have built a tremendous infrastructure to provide service to more than 10 crore (100 million) customers.” (Press Release PDF)

French technology major Alcatel has already set up a research and development center in the southern Indian state of Chennai to develop Wi-Max technology

But a disagreement between India’s CDMA and GSM operators may lead to delays in the launch of Wi-Max in the country, The Hindu Business Line reported late last month. The CDMA camp has mooted allocation of spectrum in the 2.5 Ghz band for Wi-Max services but the GSM camp has opposed the move.

In their response to a consultation paper on 3G and Wi-Max services put out by India’s telecom regulator, CDMA operators including Reliance Communication said that the 2.5-2.69 Ghz band should be allocated for Wi-Max services so that more numbers of operators can offer services. (The Government is banking on Wi-Max for broadband penetration.)

The GSM operators however say that 2.5-2.69 Ghz band should not be used for Wi-Max but should be left for third generation technology such as WCDMA. Interestingly, the CDMA Development Group, the international body promoting CDMA technology, has subscribed to India’s GSM operators’ views, says the newspaper.

Intel and Alcatel, which are investing heavily in developing Wi-Max technology, support the CDMA operators’ views. Equipment vendors like Nokia and Ericsson, which have a very strong 3G-technology portfolio, support the GSM operators’ views.