Indian operators, Tata Indicom Broadband and Reliance Broadband took the initiative to stand up to the National Telecom Policy’s target of 20 mn broadband users by 2010 and introduce wireless broadband services using WiMax technology. However, we went ahead and did a little study on how WiMax offering in India is different from that of its peers in the US.

Sprint Nextel, third largest Telco in the US has started offering Wireless Broadband services powered by WiMax under the brand name Xohm [read it as Zoom]. The Goal of Xohm is to have Mobile Broadband anywhere in the city and their network is designed to treat the entire city as one big hot-spot.

Xohm offers two popular plans – broadband at home as well as broadband on the go. Speed offered is 768 Kbps.

  • Xohm broadband at home – you require a Xohm modem. Subscription $35 / month.
  • Xohm broadband on the go – you require Xohm express card [plugs into your laptop’s PCMCIA slot] / Xohm USB card [fits in your USB slot, size of a pen drive] Alternatively, you can have Wimax ready Laptops and skip buying this accessory. Subscription costs $45/month

Now compare this to the offering in India. Speed offered is mere 256 Kbps to 512Kbps [Sorry, but these are just vocal promises and what you get is what you have to accept] In India, ISPs will plug an antenna on your roof-top and is wired to a modem inside your home. One, quite understandable problem is the weak signals / interferance due to poor city planning. But adding to customers woes were DHCP and others issues which were mainly due to poor IT implementations by ISPs. Wimax broadband on the go is absent in India.

Going forward, Sprint Nextel plans to introduce, telephone services on the same WiMax network and devices. This is not possible with Indian ISPs [licensing issue is one hurdle and the others on Telcos part are cost, scalability and extensibility, which are not given a thought]

In order to help the Indian telcos scale up and offer reliable seamless broadband services, Sprint Nextel is setting up Telecom and Broadband management consultancy here in India. Motorola and Samsung are gearing to be network vendors for Telcos in the WiMax space. Hopefully Indians will receive happy Wimax signals to smile with their counterparts across the globe 🙂