Auctions for BWA (broadband wireless access) spectrum were held soon after the 3G auction took place last year. While 3G services have already started rolling, we are yet to see action on the BWA front.
Consumers are yet to see high speed wireless data services which BWA promised. The primary reason for delay has been that operators chose a technology (LTE) which was yet to mature as they found it more future proof compared to the alternative — WiMax.
The WiMax camp claimed that the LTE ecosystem would take at least two years to mature, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with 63 LTE capable consumer devices already available in the market, according to the Global Mobile Supplier Association. This has made it easier for operators to decide which technology to bet on.
Soon after the auctions took place, there was a fierce battle between the LTE and WiMax camps, but most operators are reported to have chosen LTE as it is backward compatible with 3G and 2G technologies, which WiMax isn’t.
This is an important consideration for operators across the world as it means that their LTE consumers can venture into areas where only 2G or 3G networks are available, and yet stay connected.
Network suppliers such as Ericsson, Qualcomm and Nokia Siemens Networks have already successfully demonstrated their LTE technologies, and now with devices readily available, it is a matter of time before BWA services are launched in India.
Aircel has said that it will roll out BWA services in the country by the end of the year. A Reliance Infotel executive earlier informed us that the company would launch BWA within the first half of the year. Reliance Infotel, which is the only service provider with a pan India BWA spectrum, is reported to have selected LTE for its network. Qualcomm also participated in the auction just to support LTE, a technology that it has invested in. Although Aircel has not confirmed its choice, it is also expected to go with LTE.