Saturday, May 22, 2010

3G Vs WiMAX in India

Auctions shows the stiff competition of 3G and WiMAX in India

A few years back, telecom operators like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices and Idea battled over cellphone techologies with a David -- code division multiple access (CDMA) -- being pitted against GSM -- a Goliath. GSM has emerged a clear winner.

A similar battle has now ensued with two rival technologies -- 3G Vs WiMAX -- battling for mindshare. The government is expected to net nearly Rs 50,000 from the 3G and broadband wireless access (BWA) auctions. However, even as the 3G auction is underway, the successful foray of WiMAX (a BWA technology) is not only being threatened by the broader acceptance of 3G (a Goliath in many respects) but also by another BWA technology called Long Term Evolution Time Division Duplex or TD-LTE.

It may be argued that 3G technology is more suited to voice while Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access or WiMAX is better known for its data speeds. The non-voice revenue mix of Indian wireless operators is about 10 per cent as against 25 per cent for mature markets due to scarcity of spectrum. So ideally, 3G and WiMAX should be complementary -- one technology for voice, and the other for broadband data services.

However, 2G (and 2.5G) telecom operators in India, according to some analysts, are likely to leapfrog to TD-LTE rather than bid for WiMAX spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band.

TD-LTE is all all internet protocol (IP) network. The world's largest mobile operator by subscribers, China Mobile plans to use TD-LTE for its next generation network. Russian operator Svyazinvest, too, will adopt TD-LTE, and Qualcomm is bidding for TD-LTE spectrum in India.

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