News From Telecom World

3G vs WiMAX, which will be the best in Bangladesh? Nokia chief expresses his view

Posted on: September 17, 2008

Interview: Nokia’s local boss speaks to The Daily Star on 3G technology

Technology is like a light bulb. When it is broken, people unplug it, throw it away and plug in another. This is a dictum, and undoubtedly chased by such devices as cellphone sets.

The Bangladesh chief of heavyweight mobile phone brand Nokia is just waiting in a relaxed mood to brace for any new technology and trend, but says ‘affordability’ will be the key challenge to the country.

Prem Chand, managing director of Nokia Emerging Asia, points to the services such as wireless internet, which could remain beyond the easy reach of most people.

The people living under the poverty line underpin his observation.

“There is no doubt that the upcoming 3G or WiMax technology will bolster the country’s economy. But in a market like Bangladesh, affordability is one of the most critical issues standing in the ways of reaching the broadband benefits to the mass,” said a confident Chand.

Indicating to the government’s ongoing preparations of issuing WiMax and 3G licences, he said the government should look at people’s affordability so most get the services from the beginning.

“Any new technology uplifts a country’s growth. But it depends on how much customers actually can pay for the services offered by the technology,” Chand said, as technologies like 3G and WiMax cost high.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has a plan to issue three WiMax licences this month and four 3G licences by January 2009. According to the regulator’s policy, both the technologies will be open to mobile phones.

WiMax and 3G (3rd generation) provide wireless transmission of data in a variety of ways, ranging from point-to-point links to full mobile cellular-type access. The technologies offer broadband speed without cables.

Analysing the present mobile market trend, Chand believes wireless technology is more realistic than wire to provide broadband internet for grassroots people.

“At this moment, it does not make sense if we think the country’s 85,000 villages will have wire connections,” he said. “So, the solution is to go for wireless.”

“And here, the question is which would be the more relevant technology for Bangladesh — WiMax or 3G?” Chand said.

Both the technologies have their own parts to play. However, he prefers 3G to WiMax for Bangladesh market.

“I think 3G is more suitable for Bangladesh,” he said. Mobile phone operators have their infrastructure to introduce 3G in the country.

In line with BTRC’s plan, three 3G licences will be allocated to the mobile operators. Besides, another 3G licence may be awarded to state-run mobile operator TeleTalk.

The 3G technology can provide a wide range of services including wide area wireless voice telephony, video calls, and broadband wireless data transfer facility — all in a mobile environment.

Chand explained 3G’s relevance to Bangladesh: “3G is more affordable than WiMax.”

Citing the example of Pakistan, he said at present only 20,000 customers use WiMax in Pakistan although the service was launched there one and a half years back.

“At this moment you don’t have enough handsets available for providing WiMax services,” he said.

WiMax sets are not available to that extent compared to 3G sets in terms of costs and features, according to Chand.

Nokia is the world’s leading mobile phone maker with a global market share of almost 40 percent. Government and industry sources estimate that the Finnish group accounted for around 75 percent of all new handsets sold in Bangladesh last year.

In such a market like Bangladesh, Chand believes that around 15 percent mobile users of the total 44 million will go for 3G services from the beginning.

Nokia in Bangladesh is preparing for it.

According to him, already 1.5 million 3G-enable handsets have been sold in Bangladesh and of these handsets most are of Nokia brand. “So for Nokia in Bangladesh, 3G is not a big challenge.”

Source: Daily Star

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