Nortel planning to launch Wi-Max enabled mobile phones by early next year

Thomas K Thomas

New Delhi, Aug. 25

The Department of Telecom (DoT) has asked Department of Space (DoS) to vacate spectrum in 2.5 Ghz and 3.5 Ghz bands for use by telecom operators to provide Wi-Max services.

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.

The Secretary, DoT in a letter to his counterpart in DoS has sought vacation of the spectrum at the earliest.

DoS on the other has been maintaining that its current operations and services should not be affected while making the spectrum available for commercial, mobile use.

The Ministry of Communications is betting big on Wi-Max technology to spur broadband usage in the country.

The Government has formed a joint venture with French major Alcatel through the state owned C-DoT, to set up a global research and development centre for Wi-Max technology. Equipment vendors such as Nortel are planning to bring Wi-Max enabled mobile handset in the country by early next year. Meanwhile the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India is deliberating on the policy to be adopted for allocating spectrum for the service.

The DoT move comes despite opposition from the GSM cellular camp lead by the Cellular Operators Association of India, which has said that 2.5 Ghz should be reserved exclusively for 3G services based on Wide band CDMA (WCDMA) technology.

CDMA operators on the other hand are in favour of the move, as it will help in meeting the broadband targets of the Government.

Globally too a number of operators are rolling out services based on Wi-Max. US-based operator Sprint Nextel recently said it plans to leapfrog 3G technologies to deploy Wi-Max, which according to the company is a 4G technology.

In India Wi-Max is being seen as a solution to the lack of access to last mile connectivity.

While BSNL has refused to unbundle its copper network, private operators are banking on wireless technologies such as Wi-Max to reach broadband to the rural areas.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 26, 2006)
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