Wi-Fi gaining traction in India

Sridhar Pai
Wi-Fi is becoming steadily more popular in India, thanks to the falling cost of devices and the immaturity of alternative technologies in the market.
 
Prices of data-capable smartphones have dropped steeply in the region to about 3000 rupees ($67) today, while a large number of Indian mobile handset brands such as Olive, Karbonn, Micromax, Lava and others are unleashing more smartphone choices for less.
 
On the upper end of the device spectrum, Samsung Galaxy Tab now retails its new version 2 for only 24,000 rupees, down from 29,000 rupees just four months ago, and is flying off the shelves.
 
From the networks side, you will notice that the stars are aligning for a perfect take off of Wi-Fi. As of May 2011, it will be a full year that the 3G / BWA spectrum auctions and its infamous investigation aftermath were initiated and not a single BWA network has seen the light of day, let alone launch of service.
 
While 3G licensees have attempted to light up select towns with 3G, there is no single new service the user can connect with and claim a high quality experience which was otherwise not available. In this vacuum Wi-Fi appears to be a great alternative.
 
Wi-Fi service providers are therefore scrambling to expand coverage. Thus Ozone, Zylog, Tikona and MetaMax have stepped on the gas and are enhancing build-out adding more POPs, expanding coverage and increasing footprint.
 
Ozone is exploring to tie up with Vodafone and Idea while a technology collaboration agreement with Alcatel-Lucent is already in place.
 
Tikona has perhaps built the largest Wi-Fi network in India with Wi-Fi APs supplied by Ruckus Wireless. An estimated 45,000 APs are already deployed and an agreement with Aircel, India’s most data-savvy GSM operator is already in place. Shyam-owned Spectranet and MetaMax are contributing to an overall build-out which has tremendous potential to grow.
 

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