Why WiMAX is the way to go -- for India

16th April 2010
Why WiMAX is the  way to go -- for India

By C.S.Rao
Chairman , WiMAX Forum , India
Building India’s future through broadband is a compelling need for Indian aspirations. A broadband-enabled India would ensure a literate, well informed and prosperous India. Studies across  the globe,  have shown that higher broadband penetration has helped the global economic situation to move from recession to recovery. A recent McKinsey study projected that a country’s  GDP improves by 0.6% for every 10% increase in penetration of broadband.  Wireless improved teledensity in India in quickest time and wireless would similarly drive the broadband growth. India needs a state-of-the-art communications infrastructure built on digital technologies like IP, 4G and Smart Antennae.
Such a 4G Network like WiMAX on the Broadband Wireless Access spectrum, would enable India to have a digital national broadband information infrastructure right now. BWA spectrum for a 4G technology like WiMAX would enable the delivery of quality knowledge content for e-travel, e-commerce, and telemedicine services at affordable levels for different economic segments of India. India’s “Digital Dividend through Broadband”  will have a transformative effect on Young India and would position the country as a global hub for telecom, media and Internet Services. The national resource of 60MHz BWA spectrum in global bands of 2.5 & 2.3 GHZ needs to be immediately exploited for utilization rather than allowing  such a national asset of spectrum to remain unutilized for over 3 years now by possible spectrum hoarders. The country already lost an opportunity of serving 20 Million broadband users over the past 3 years and improving economy by about $5B industry size, due to delay in BWA Auctions.
The telecom sector in India  needs to achieve the following by immediate use  of BWA Spectrum for all the 2 slots of 20MHZ each.  
1.     Establishment of a commercially viable scalable  Wireless broadband network infrastructure for ‘nextgen’ Internet, media and broadband access services on 4G  WiMAX .WiMAX technology would help ubiquitous coverage of 1000 cities and towns  as well as   10% capacity in rural reaches by 2012,  exploiting the already available tower, fibre and real estate infrastructure .
2.     Evolution of innovative content and programming in all regional languages for all online communities .
3.     A new business framework for digital content and services amongst Producers, Distributors and Users. 
4.     Provision of  a high quality e-Gov services delivery for public services in PPP mode.
5.     Development of  a new set of competency, skills and talent at all levels for  an online, always connected world.
6.     Aim at  Universal Broadband Wireless Access for all with affordable access for at least 100 Million  users by 2015  
7.     Digital inclusion of the hinterland India through improved media  and Internet access and awareness.
8.     Laying  the  foundation for Digital Radio & Digital TV services delivery by 2014.
9.     Creation of online commerce, banking , Insurance centric national digital Information Infrastructure .
Global Outlook for Broadband
Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore, Germany, Finland, France, Estonia, Spain, Japan have launched National Broadband evolution plans even though they all had mobile networks on 2G & 3G. The US  administration announced a stimulus programme for High Speed Broadband & Smart Grid Technology, exploiting 4G Wireless like WiMAX.  Broadband Internet access is declared as a  basic civil right in some nations like Finland.
User demand for Mobile Internet is booming. That requires Indian Telcos to prepare for the launch of 4G WiMAX Networks to deliver mobile internet, mobile video, mobile commerce and support mobile computing. Smart phones now ship with social networking applications pre-loaded, due to sheer popularity. YouTube says that Mobile Video is as an exponentially growing part of its site usage and reported in 2009 that uploads from mobiles to YouTube increased by about 1700% due to the penetration of video-enabled devices. Panasonic, Samsung & Sony already offer models of Internet ready TVs and expects about 30% of TVs to be launched during 2011-13 to have built-in Internet connectivity. This offers opportunity for Broadband industry growth.
Government should put in place efficient means of ensuring the vast majority of India to have access to NextGen Broadband on our wireless infrastructure. The mandate to have universal 2Mbps Broadband as a minimum service standard should be the goal for Government on BWA services by 2013.Only then, can India would move towards a Digital Networked Economy in the 21st century. Digital  Broadband is an essential facility for citizens in a modern society. 
We at India are at an inflection point in Wireless Broadband adoption, in scalability of usage and in demand for Services. India needs Internet focus on   a connected world and an online world. Indian Telco leaders need to rise to the occasion and put pressure on Government not to let auctioned BWA spectrum to be hoarded and traded .They need  to embrace 4G technology of WiMAX and offer Wireless Broadband and Mobile Internet services at once in 2010.
Only then  would   Broadband India would become a reality. Government should take decisions now for BWA auctioned spectrum  to be put to immediate use for roll out in 1000 cities and towns and 10% of  the capacity  in rural India by 2012 and thus set India on the path to becoming a digital society.
More resources at www.wimaxforum.org
Contact the author:  csrao@wimaxforum.org
April 16 2010