Ronnie05's Blog

BSNL hangs up on WiMAX: Death of WiMAX in India?

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on October 1, 2011

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) which was provided with a largesse of 2.5MHz Broadband Wireless Spectrum for its WiMAX launch is reported dropping the business case for commercial launch of WiMAX and is surrendering the spectrum back to the government. At the same time, BSNL has also assured the government that it is willing to continue its rural WiMAX offerings as part of its social obligations. BSNL has so far deployed WiMax technology using this spectrum for connecting the Community Service Centres envisaged under the Government’s e-governance programme.

BWA licences were given away last year, to Airtel, Reliance, Aircel and Qualcomm through an open bidding process. BSNL was the only Telco which was doing a WiMAX over BWA implementation. The other players have announced their BWA networks on 4G LTE. Neither of these players have so far launched services using this spectrum.
BSNL losses have tripled to about Rs 6,000 crore for 2010-11. BSNL had paid Rs 8313.8 crore for broadband access frequencies last year and it is currently seeking a full refund.

The following reasons are being provided for the roll-out failure

1. BSNL plans to rollout WiMAX-based using BWA through the franchisee model flopped over procedural, legal and other punitive charges.
2. BSNL also doesnot want to stretch its resources into LTE and is now focussed on better rollout and consolidation in the 3G space.
3. BSNL being just a single company adopting the WiMAX platform, was also confronted with the possibility of isolation from an interoperability and roaming perspective. Besides, if BSNL were to offer 4G services on the LTE platform in the future as a natural evolution for its existing customers, the telco will be confronted with a redundant WiMAX network.
4. BSNL also offers competing CDMA EV-DO services that are an alternative to the services it might have offered using BWA spectrum.

Thus, the surrender of BW Airwaves by BSNL effectively means the death of WiMAX in India. It will be available as a part of the government rural connectivity plan, but commercially WiMAX may not be rolled out in the country.

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