India’s Ministry of Communications (MoC) yesterday approved the award of 3G mobile and WiMAX wireless broadband spectrum to state-run telcos Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL). Both will be allocated blocks of 2×5MHz in the 2.1GHz frequency band whilst also each receiving a 20MHz block of WiMAX spectrum in the 2.5GHz band. MTNL operates fixed line and wireless networks in New Delhi and Mumbai whilst BSNL’s fixed and wireless services cover all other areas of the country. Private companies will have to take part in 3G and WiMAX spectrum auctions in the coming weeks, and the highest bids will dictate the prices that BSNL and MTNL eventually pay for their frequencies. According to the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) 3G licensing guidelines released on 1 August, applicants can also opt for 800MHz or 450MHz licences suitable for CDMA2000 1xEV-DO services. It is hoped that operators will roll out converged 3G/WiMAX mobile services by the middle of 2009.
The planned WiMAX auction is for two 20MHz blocks in both the 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz bands. The government has also announced that blocks of frequencies in the 700MHz and 3.3GHz-3.6GHz bands will be auctioned as they become available to offer fixed WiMAX and rural wireless broadband services to consumers.
The WiMAX Forum today commended India for its WiMAX allocation and upcoming auction of further frequencies in the 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz ranges. ‘WiMAX technology meets a number of needs for India’s diverse population, bridging the digital divide while providing a platform to meet the future demands for 4G mobile broadband services,’ said Ron Resnick, president of the WiMAX Forum, who continued, ‘For the citizens of India, WiMAX will enable the proliferation of wireless broadband for all consumer segments, including broadband services in dense urban and suburban areas, rural broadband connectivity to enable high speed wireless applications and services, and enterprise broadband access across the country.’ The WiMAX Forum plans to add an Indian certification lab to its existing network by the end of 2008. The WiMAX Forum has certified a range of mobile WiMAX products in the 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz bands and estimates that more than 1,000 mobile WiMAX products will undergo certification by 2012.