CDMA, GSM players lock horns over spectrum

Thomas K Thomas

New Delhi, July 23

Even as the battle for 3G spectrum rages, the telecom industry is gearing up for another confrontation over spectrum for Wi-Max services, which will enable users to access high-speed wireless broadband services.

While the CDMA camp lead by the Association of Unified Service Providers of India has mooted allocation of spectrum in the 2.5 Ghz band for Wi-Max services, the GSM camp lead by the Cellular Operators Association of India has opposed the move.

The disagreement may delay the launch of Wi-Max services in the country.

Wi-Max is touted to be a disruptive technology that operators around the world are looking to introduce, as it supposedly gives the benefits of a 3G service at lower costs.

French technology major Alcatel has set up an R&D centre in Chennai for developing Wi-Max.

The Government is banking on Wi-Max for broadband penetration.

In their response to the TRAI's consultation paper on 3G and Wi-Max services, CDMA operators including Reliance Communication said that the 2.5-2.69 Ghz band should be allocated for Wi-Max services so that more number of operators can offer services.

According to Reliance, this will help in meeting the broadband perspective of the Government as greater availability of band for broadband services will lead to greater penetration and make it easy for providers to roll out services in these bands in urban and rural areas.

Technology providers such as Intel and Alcatel, that are investing heavily in developing Wi-Max technology, have supported the CDMA operators' views.

However, the CDMA Development Group (CDG), which is the international body promoting CDMA technology, has subscribed to the COAI view.

The COAI has said that 2.5-2.69 Ghz band should not be used for Wi-Max but should be left for third generation technology such as WCDMA.

"We would like to express our strong reservations regarding consideration of the 2.5-2.69 GHz and the 700 Mhz bands for Wi-Max applications. This band is earmarked as the extension band for 3G. This band, if and when fully available, will not be sufficient to meet India's 3G spectrum requirements."

The GSM operators are supported by equipment vendors such as Nokia and Ericsson, which have a very strong 3G technology portfolio.

Related Stories:
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TRAI still examining row over using 1900 Mhz band
Spectrum row now spreads to equipment vendors

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 24, 2006)
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