Four years of operation, more than 500 deployments across 148 countries and pathetic 6.5mn subscribers, is not a very good situation to be in for the Indian WiMAX industry. Initial WiMax roll outs in unlicensed spectrum in India have been a miserable failure.
Given that 802.16m is still being developed as a future of WiMAX, we believe that WiMAX in India would be used to provide retail broadband and enterprise leased line services on 802.16e platform. These services are already being provided on other platforms such as DSL, local cable and CDMA data cards, which restricts the revenue earning potential from this spectrum on an immediate basis.
Both LTE and IEEE 802.16m aim at meeting the IMT Advanced requirements which is to achieve 100Mbps for mobile application and 1Gbps for fixed-nomadic application. Given the uncertainty about predicting technologies as well as uncertainty about spectrum availability, we expect serious operators to opt for WiMAX spectrum.
Globally, operators have already made huge investments in HSDPA networks and hence the natural progression would be towards LTE. For WiMAX, however, operators need to make fresh investments. Also, to provide coverage on a WiMAX network in metro areas (Mumbai/ Delhi) the no. of sites required would be much higher, leading to higher capex. However, some industry participants believe that 3G and WiMAX are not competing but complimentary technologies and both can co-exist, where 3G would be used for voice and WiMAX for data.
Finally, WiMAX provides certain advantages over wireline network such as speedy deployment, lower maintenance and upgrade cost and phased investment in accordance with demand, it does not offer any significantly different value preposition apart from providing service on a wireless platform. High speed wireless internet services are also being provided by CDMA operators in the country. Therefore, there is no incremental benefit coming from WiMAX services in our view. We expect WiMAX to be an additional option available to consumers apart from Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), cable model and Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) services.