WiMAX subs in India to top 13m by 2013

Despite the repeated delays in the BWA and 3G spectrum auctions in India, analysts at market research firms Maravedis and Tonse Telecom expect a ‘reasonable user base’ of 3G and WiMAX subscribers to be established over the next five years.

“3G/BWA/WiMAX network activity is already on a roll,” says Sridhar Pai, founder of India-based Tonse Telecom. “For the severely underserved Indian broadband market, demand for wireless broadband connectivity continues across all sectors: retail, SoHo, SMEs and large enterprises alike.”

Until the BWA/3G auctions take place, ‘next-gen’ network activity is restricted to India’s incumbents, which have already been granted their spectrum (but they will have to match the highest amount by the winning private bidders for their spectrum allocations once the auctions take place, which is not expected until the end of this year at the earliest).

But according to Maravedis and Tonse, the big BWA/3G push, not surprisingly, will be seen after the spectrum auctions. “However, aided by pre-allocation in the 2.5GHz band, incumbents are already developing massive national rollout plans for both 3G and WiMAX,” says Maravedis CEO Adlane Fellah. “Expect significant pan-India deployments from other successful auction bidders.”

The analyst firms estimate that in 2008 about 10,000 BWA/WiMAX base station sectors were deployed by all operators combined in India. “Currently there are about 300,000 BWA/WiMAX subscribers already using these services,” notes Pai.

Fellah also adds that wireless capex in India has already reached sub-$100 levels per line, which confirms that wireless will be the primary transport technology in the country.


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