BSNL plan WiMAX trials in India.

India's largest telecom operator BSNL after tasting concurrent success with its aggressive ADSL based wired and Wi-Fi based wireless broadband access initiatives is now aiming to cover larger areas using WiMAX.

The state run company, which signed nearly a million broadband subscribers since January 2005 when it started offering broadband services, recently disrupted the broadband access market with aggressive rollout of Wi-Fi hot spots in 24 cities offering low tariff Wi-Fi access.

The telecom major is now planning to provide broadband wireless services using WiMax technology in Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai by next year and is setting up 10 base stations for commencing the trials.

BSNL has

earmarked close to $750 million for its WiMax project.

Thomas K Thomas

New Delhi, March 9 Taking a leaf out of the Tata Teleservices-Virgin Mobile deal, State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd has decided to adopt the franchisee model for rolling out wireless broadband using WiMax technology.

BSNL has invited bids from prospective partners on a revenue-sharing basis.

BSNL wants to be the first to roll out wireless broadband on the 2.5-Ghz band. While private telecom companies have to bid for spectrum in this band, BSNL and MTNL will get automatic allocation. Broadband services on WiMax technology promise high-speed Internet access on laptops and mobile handsets.

Though WiMax-enabled mobile handsets are expensive at the moment, manufacturers such as Motorola are betting on a huge uptake which will bring the prices down.

Two-stage bidding

As per the expression of interest document floated by BSNL, the franchisee will be selected after a two-stage bidding process. The bidder shall submit both techno-commercial and financial bids at the initial stage.

Based on the evaluation of the techno-commercial bids, successful bidders will have to install one base station each in an urban and semi-urban area at their cost and risk and undergo a pre-qualifying test for conformity in range, capacity and throughput requirements.

BSNL has earmarked close to $750 million for its WiMax project. It has begun offering modem-based WiMax services for PC users.

It has chosen US-based SOMA Networks to roll out WiMax across three States — Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.

“This project confirms our view that the potential for WiMax is mainly in emerging countries where wired infrastructure is poor or even non-existent, and where fixed broadband penetration is consequently very low.

In such markets, wireless solutions represent the only economic alternative to deliver broadband services to the mass market. This explains our forecast that 46 per cent of WiMax users in 2011 will be located in the Asia-Pacific region,” said an analyst’s report from OVUM.

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BSNL plans WiMAX coverage of 80,000 villages

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is reported to be planning to connect 80,000 villages with high speed wireless broadband services via an extensive WiMAX network. According to Rajesh Kumar, head of strategic planning at BSNL, the project would be undertaken in phases with around 1,000 base stations expected to be installed in the first phase giving coverage of around 10,000 villages. ‘We have the infrastructure ready, we will invite bids to procure equipment,’ Kumar said, adding that the first phase of the project will be completed over the next two years.

BSNL has plans to test WiMax in Vizag, along with Pune and Ahmedabad, reports The Hindu. In the recent times, broadband usage in Vizag has risen tremendously, and this new initiative, said Mr. G.V Ramakrishna, Deputy General Manager, BSNL, will help in meeting the rising demand for the broadband access.

In an interview, Mr. G.V Ramakrishna said,

“Fourteen locations have been identified, including the special economic zone at Atchyuthapuram, to provide the facility. The cell towers will be used to install the equipment which will be arriving here by September-end. WiMax will take care of the demand for new broadband connections”

In another news the Department of Telecommunication has decided to allocate one block of 3G spectrum to state owned carriers BSNL and MTNL , in the circles where they operate respectively, reports Business Standard. The spectrum will be allocated to these players at a price equivalent to the highest bid received for that circle.

A reserve price has been set up for different circles. The reserve price for Delhi, Mumbai and Category ‘A’ circles is Rs.160. And the reserve price for Category ‘B’ and ‘C’ circles is set at Rs. 80 crores and Rs.30 crores respectively.

Both of these things have been pending for ages now. I just hope we can get uniform and ubiquitous Internet connectivity via WiMax and my cell carrier finally offers me blazing fast downloads of Youtube videos.

KOLKATA: Telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) is all set to float two tenders with cumulative value of Rs 4,000 crore for rolling out WiMax in the country within two months. While the first tender of Rs 2,000 crore for launching WiMax in rural India will be floated next week, the one for urban India will be floated within two months.

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access or WiMax in short, is a telecommunications technology aimed at providing wireless data over long distances in a variety of ways. It allows a user to browse the internet on a laptop computer without physically connecting the laptop to a router, hub or switch via an ethernet cable.

Confirming the development, BSNL chief general manager (Calcutta) SK Chakravarti said, “The project for setting up WiMax in rural India will be funded out of the Universal Service Obligation fund and it will initially cover 25,000 villages. The project includes offering broadband connection through this WiMax network in 40,000-odd primary and secondary schools by 2008. Additionally, BSNL will set up 50,000 WiMax kiosks. The entire set of service will at least be on 2.5G technology.”

“The second tender valued at Rs 2,000 crore will cover 70 cities including Kolkata and it will be floated within the next two months. Equipment for setting up network in the cities will, however, be funded by BSNL itself. We hope to start offering the service in cities by the end of 2008,” he said. Digressing to broadband speed, Mr Chakravarti said,

“BSNL is also working on a project to offer at least 100 mbps of broadband speed for all. Currently, it is about 2 mbps. This will be done in stages where in the first stage fibre lines to the nodes will be converted to fibre optics.

In the second stage, the plan is to offer fibre to premises and this will allow 100 mbps. We hope to achieve this in the next two and half years.”

Talking about the current waiting list for new broadband connections, Mr Chakravarti said: “There are about 9,000 applicants waiting currently. We hope to bring down the waiting period from three months to about two weeks soon. The delay was the result of exhausted capacity for 1.5 lakh connections.”

Currently, we are in the process of installing additional capacity and the waiting list will come down”.

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