News From Telecom World

WiMAX in sight

Posted on: September 24, 2008

WiMAX, the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, is a wireless-broadband-access Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) technology, based on the IEEE 802.16 standard, that provides for the wireless transmission of data in a variety of ways, ranging from point-to-point links to full mobile cellular-type access. By virtue of its longer transmission distance, faster broadband access, excellent last-mile connectivity and multimedia communication services, WiMAX has already made its mark on markets worldwide.

In view of this, the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has decided to issue three licences for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) services in 2.3 GHz (two licences) and 2.5 GHz (one licence) spectrum bands as per the regulatory and licensing guidelines for BWA services licence. It is held that an additional BWA licence may be issued to the Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL) with the same terms and conditions including the licence acquisition fee (to be fixed by way of auction).

Local firms are eligible to apply for the licence and they are also allowed to form partnerships with foreign companies with a binding condition of a maximum of 60% of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment). The auction is due to be held on September 24. However, the six licensed mobile phone operators (GSM and CDMA) have been barred from applying for this licence. The licence will be awarded by auction subject to fulfilment of all the conditions mentioned by the BTRC. The auction will be for licence acquisition fee and the bidding will start at Tk 25 crore. The highest 10 bidders will be considered for the licences and the topmost bidder will have the liberty to choose its preferred band from the offered spectrum.

The BTRC has stated that the duration of the licences will initially be for a term of 15 (fifteen) years. Upon expiry of the initial term, the licence may be renewed for subsequent terms, each of five years in duration, subject to the approval from the commission and other such conditions, including the payment of fees specified by the commission. The annual licence fee will be Tk 3 crore and the licensee will have to submit a bank guarantee of Tk 15 crore in favour of the BTRC within 15 days from the date of issue of the licence.

However, the BTRC has also stated that the operators, within one year of the issuance of licence, will have to install minimum five full-fledged Base Transceiver Station (BTS) radio sites in areas covering each divisional headquarters (including the whole district), three in each category-A district, two in each category-B district and one in each category-C district. So, in the first year the operators will have to cover 20% of the upazilas and 10% of villages in Bangladesh, and in the following 4 years the operators will have to cover the remaining parts of the country.

In Bangladesh, some of the major companies that are applying for such a licence include ZTE Corp, Agni Systems, Brac & Square consortium, Rankstel and Dhakaphone among others. Sources in the BTRC have said that ten to twelve companies have applied for the WiMAX licence and among these the top three bidders will be awarded licences after the open auction on September 24.

It is also held that similar licences would be handed by the BTRC to organisations for the establishment, operation and maintenance of 3G technology in the near future.

A huge debate exists between the WiMAX and 3G authorities on the issue of which technology’s performance is better. Although, both these technologies can work in tandem with each other; this table, collected from ZTE Corp, shows a comparative analysis between WiMAX and the two other 3G technologies (WCDMA and CDMA2000).

The name WiMAX was created by the WiMAX Forum (http://www.wimaxforum.org), which was formed in June 2001 to promote conformity with and interoperability of the standard. As a worldwide consortium, the forum is focused on global adoption of WiMAX and chartered to establish certification processes that achieve interoperability, publish technical specifications based on recognised standards, promote the technology and pursue a favourable regulatory environment.

The forum has more than 522 members comprising the majority of operators, component and equipment companies in the communications ecosystem, among which, 15 are board members. The board of the WiMAX Forum is comprised of industry leaders who are committed to providing guidance and direction to the forum to ensure that the WiMAX Forum organisational staff executes on its vision and charter.

The current board members of the WiMAX forum are ZTE Corporation (China), Samsung (South Korea), Aperto Networks (USA), Airspan Networks (UK), Alcatel-Lucent (France), Alvarion (Israel), Fujitsu (Japan), Intel Corporation (USA), KDDI (Japan), British Telecom (UK), KT Corp (South Korea), Sprint Nextel (USA), Motorola (USA), AT&T (USA) and Nokia (Finland).

In South Asia, Pakistan is considered to have the biggest potential market for WiMAX. Currently, Pakistan has the largest fully functional WiMAX network in the world. Wateen Telecom installed the network (with an initial rollout in seventeen cities) throughout Pakistan using Motorola hardware. Many operators in different countries are now interested in deploying this advanced technology and some of the recent contracts include winning WiMAX contracts of Alvarion in Kenya and Malta, Alcatel-Lucent in Georgia, ZTE in Colombia and Libya, Airspan in Saudi Arabia and Ecuador, Cisco and NEC in Thailand and Nortel in Russia.

The WiMAX technology is expected to improve and enhance the current internet infrastructure in Bangladesh. All the government and non-government institutions, universities, medical colleges, technological research centres, ministries, educational boards and many other organisations are expected to benefit from WiMAX as it will provide data and telecommunications services, and also a wireless alternative to cable and DSL for “last mile” broadband access.

Once the WiMAX network is completely set up in the country, it is expected to provide a very high-speed broadband internet service to the people. It is likely to open up the many possibilities and services like IPTV, online gaming, downloading, video streaming, VoIP and other such facilities within the reach of the common people. It is also expected to boost the ICT sector of Bangladesh since high-speed internet access all over the country will open the door to more call centres and software outsourcing companies, which are primarily based in the capital city of Dhaka.

Source: Daily Star

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