IEEE working group on 802.16m meets in Bangalore, final approval slated for year end.
A key global standard that will see zippier WiMAX-based broadband wireless access (BWA) -- at speeds between 200 MBPS and 300 MBPS – is being crafted with significant inputs from Indian experts . On Monday, the Working Group of the IEEE, on 802.16m, met in Bangalore, with scientists from the Indian Institutes of Technology at Delhi, Mumbai, Kanpur, Kharagpur and Madras; the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore and the Chennai-based Centre for Excellence in Wireless Technology, taking part, along with dozens of members from abroad. Dr Roger Marks, who chairs the IEEE/ 802.16 working group said this was only the second time that the group was convening in India, since its formation in 1998.
The draft 802.16m standard was expected to receive final IEEE approval this year in a form that would meet ( and exceed) the requirements of the International Telecommunication Union’s or IMT Advanced definition of 4G ( International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced). ( see our tutorial on 4G WiMAX in our Special Feature slot, elsewhere on this page, for an explanation of the jargon and links to educational resources).
4G WiMAX summit
In a 4G WiMAX Summit sponsored by Intel, that preceded the Working Group meeting, Dr Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, CeWIT listed the challenges for broadband service providers in India: spectrum limited to two 20-MHz slots – and the consequent need to ‘reuse’ spectrum; the need for very high spectral efficiency from day one; high percentage of nomadic users; very high range of user densities: calling for cells in a 200 metre radius in cities – an 20 km in rural areas – and the need to deploy relays in a big way.
C.S. Rao, Chairman of the WiMAX Forum ( India), pointed to the significant challenge in India’s national goal set at 100 million broadband connections by 2014 – up from around 7 million now. Give this ambitious target, the cellular sector could be expected to at most, to cater to some 40 million broadband users within the next 4 years -- WiMAX is the only option to bridge the gap of 60 million, he said.
Deepak Mittal, General Manager and Head Tech Planning at Tata Communications, was confident that the Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) would increase two or three fold once WiMAX was deployed, taking average revenues from $ 1-2 a month now to something around $ 7-10. Telecom provider reps generally agreed that this was no cakewalk – but do-able. But for this to happen the cost to deliver 1GB of data need to be almost halved from today’s figure of around a dollar.
Other peculiarly Indian facets of the broadband business were brought out by Dr Debabrata Das of the Indian Institute of Information Technology, Bangalore: that non video traffic currently exceeded video traffic; that school and college students together made up 68 percent of Indian Internet over mobile phone users ( IMRB survey); that 85 percent of video traffic flowed from the top seven metros. As the recent Indian Premier League cricket coverage at You Tube has shown, video had the potential to becoming a killer app in India. Yan Xiu-Zhang from Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute – the first application lab endorsed by the WiMAX Forum – said government recognized the central role that broadband, specifically WiMAX could play and had funded research to the tune of $ 300 million at the institute.
A panel of telecom equipment manufacturers that included reps from Samsung India, Motorola, US, ZTE, US, Alvarion and Aviat Networks ( see names in accompanying photo), suggested that their own expectations from the rollout of WiMAX was lower operating costs, better performance and ‘future prooofing’ of technology. The same managed services or managed capacity model that many Indian 2G and 3G providers had successfully created woulds work when 4G became available, they agreed.
May 11 2010