BSNL's plan B for Wimax -- LTE

Matt Lewis/Rethink Wireless
08 Sep 2010
Daily News
When the Indian BWA spectrum auctions concluded earlier this year, it was assumed that Wimax would be the technology of choice for the 2.3GHz TDD spectrum on offer, and the two state-owned telcos, BSNL and MTNL, made early commitments to the wireless standard.
However, now that deployments are underway in earnest, word has it that BSNL is mandating its franchises to switch from Wimax to LTE if LTE should become successful.
In many respects, India is an ideal candidate for Wimax deployment. The country has a relatively low level of cellular penetration. The nation also has regional spectrum licensing mechanisms which facilitate both national and regional operators - a set-up which is supportive of new entrants into the market who are not tied to a legacy cellular technology.
India's limited fixed infrastructure and low broadband penetration (according to Akamai, India places 100th on the world broadband rankings) also make Wimax an attractive option, even for established carriers who're looking to exploit wireless technologies to reach the millions of potential customers in country's vast rural areas.
It was assumed that Wimax would pretty much have the Indian market to itself, particularly since LTE was traditionally seen as an FDD wireless technology and therefore incompatible with TDD spectrum.
But then the TDD flavor of LTE came along. Championed by Qualcomm and influential unpaired spectrum holders like China Mobile, a TDD version of LTE has been pushed out. Although standardization was initiated two years later than paired LTE (FDD LTE), it has more or less caught up and reached commercial viability.