Dual Wimax/LTE chips godsend for Indian BWA

Sridhar T. Pai
Tonse Telecom
If you are an Indian BWA licensee with a brand new 2.3GHz spectrum license you acquired in the recent auctions, then you are struck by the quandary of the situation: which technology to choose for your network, LTE or Wimax? This decision can be life-changing for an operator, one wrong move and you could find yourself on a Wimax island with an unproven future or you end up waiting for ever for your LTE network to arrive in good shape.
 
Consider this: a typical Indian multi-circle BWA license winner would be targeting to cover, say - a 200 million population base. Assuming the operator is satisfied to penetrate less than 10% of the addressable base, this could be about 6-7 million in 4-5 year period. Assuming reasonable level of coverage, the operator may have to invest in about 7500 base stations. If the operator moves ahead with a $200 million investment commitment and picks Wimax to immediately harness his 20MHz spectrum, there is only one question that could bother him while he is busy signing up customers: what is my migration path for the future, how do I get to the promised land called LTE?
 
The option to getting stuck on Wimax is to consider TD-LTE instead of Wimax, but there are a number of other irritants: somewhat incomplete solution as of now, eco-system richness or lack of it, weak choice of infrastructure vendor, higher equipment cost, uncertain device availability and even lack of a reasonable level of awareness about the product / technology and solution capabilities. So BWA licensees are faced with a rather poor choice by being forced to pick the immediately available one or sit on the fence to wait for the supposedly ‘better’ one.
 
But vendor Beceem's new BCSi500 LTE/Wimax Single Chip solution will end the quandary by allowing BWA licensees to enjoy the benefits of deploying Wimax now while having the security of being able to upgrade to TD-LTE later. A complete Wimax eco-system is ready today with USB dongles in the $30-$40 range and CPEs with voice support for $50- $60, and an equally broad array of core network infrastructure.
 
These BWA operators can consider a move to LTE by 2012 to early 2013, when TD-LTE hopefully will begin to stabilize. By then, the standard promises to deliver the performance specified in its standards, and begin to scale and build volume-economics that makes it a feasible option to enter emerging markets such as India.
 

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