WiFi and WiMax Penetration in India – How Near, How Far?

The WiFi market in India is set to roll with real estate developments, growing laptop sales, pervasive use of mobile phones for rich content transfer.

As per a study by Tonse Telecom, 2011-2012, the market for Wi-Fi networking gear and services (excluding laptops, handsets, and chipsets) in India will top $890 million, marking a 36% CAGR from 2008.

WiFi is widely being used in rural areas to connect rural farmers to experts in agriculture, remote patients to doctors, and young villagers to training and employment opportunities.

On the other hand, WiMax is expected to see a slow uptake until 2009 and is expected to rope over 6.9mn WiMax connections by 2011.

By January 2008, India had only 3.4 million broadband subscribers, far short of the target of 9 million by 2007 set by the broadband policy. Given the low levels of PC penetration in India, there will be a limited demand for WiMax and the country-specific mobile broadband framework makes a nationwide rollout of WiMax cost prohibitive.” Gartner principal research

“While the government policy proposes extensive rural coverage using WiMAX, due to the limitations of the spectrum allocation, the only deployment for a sustained business case is to bring WiMAX broadband to rural centers in villages or schools, hospitals and so on. From the access point, individual access will then be available via a Wi-Fi mesh. In urban areas, WiMAX can be utilized to offer mobile and semi-mobile broadband to consumers and enterprise customers.

In November 2007, the Department of Telecom (DoT) decided that it would auction the 3G and WiMAX Spectrum. For 3G, the Indian government allocated 30 MHz of bandwidth in the 2100 MHz band. Therefore, there will be three or six licenses released dependent on the government’s decision on whether 5 MHz or 10 MHz will be given to each license holder. The government also decided to auction three WiMAX licenses in the 2.5 GHz band with 10 MHz each.

The timeline and bandwidth of 3G and WiMAX licenses will heavily impact the future mobile broadband access market share in between 3G and WiMAX. The permission for mobility in the WiMAX license will also influence the future of WiMAX growth. Also, 3G seems to have, in comparison to WiMAX, a better ecosystem in place, according to the report.  ” – source

The major challenges in WiMax updake is of course the poor broadband penetration in India, unavailability of mobile frequencies and most importantly, govt.’s lack of interest.

Also read: Stats on PC Sales in India.

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