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Archive for the ‘WiMAX’ Category

Nokia has dismissed WiMAX as a failed idea and likened it to the Betamax video format which lost the video tape war in the 1980s. Nokia’s head of sales and manufacturing, Anssi Vanjoki told the Financial Times that he doesn’t “see that WiMax is taking hold anywhere in a big way,”

“I don’t think the future is very promising [for WiMax]. This is a classic example of industry standards clashing, and somebody comes out as the winner and somebody has to lose. Betamax was there for a long time, but VHS dominated the market. I see exactly the same thing happening here,” Mr Vanjoki added.

Nokia is a long term backer of LTE as an upgrade path to higher speed mobile data services, although it does maintain a position within the WiMAX trade association.

“It’s my prediction that by 2015, we will have an LTE network that will cover most of the important places in the world and that will give us the coverage and capacity we need,” said Mr Vanjoki.

Vanjoki’s view echoes that of IMS Research in a report published last October. According to IMS Research Analyst Bob Perez,“The truth is that WiMAX is a very robust technology that has been quite successful in many parts of the world as a fixed broadband solution and will continue to do so, especially in underserved markets.” He continued by saying that, “although mobile WiMAX networks are already going live thanks to Sprint/Clearwire and Korea Telecom the prospect of additional mobile WiMAX networks from Tier 1 operators are looking pretty grim.”

However, Clearwire is bullish about the prospects for WiMAX networks and is predicting that it’s early mover advantage compared to LTE networks will push it to over 30 million subscribers by 2017 and annual revenues of over $17.5 billion. The forecasts were outlined by Clearwire CEO, Benjamin Wolf at an investor presentation last June when the firm outlined its merger with Sprint’s WiMAX network.

As a final thought, while Betamax failed as a consumer product, its commercial derivative, Betacam eventually dominated as the de facto videotape format for broadcast television services. Maybe Vanjoki’s comment will foretell a similar fate for WiMAX as the dominant technology for commercial users and fixed wireless services.

Source: Cellular News

The Tk 215 crore bid price for each WiMax licence acquisition has become a ‘double bind’ for the telecom regulator, as majority of the seven bidders are now reluctant to have the technology at such a price.

Three bidders — BanglaLion Communication, BRAC BD Mail Network Ltd and Augere Wireless Broadband Bangladesh Ltd — won the WiMax licences through an auction organised by BTRC in September this year.

However, BRAC later refused to take the licence. Then BTRC called the fourth bidder, Btel, to take the licence. But Btel and also Bangladesh Internet Access and Pocket One refused to take the pricey licence.

BTRC officials said the deadline for BTel, the fourth bidder for WiMax, expired recently and it also refused to pay 50 percent of the bid money, saying the licence fee is ‘too much’.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) had to knock at the seventh bidder (Mango Telecom) to receive WiMax licence as four other bidders refused to bite the so-called hot cake, but Mango is yet to respond.

Chairman of BTRC Manzurul Alam yesterday (16 Dec ‘08) said, “We have nothing to do if bidders hike price during the auction.” He also hinted that BTRC will not go for further initiatives for the third operator, if everyone refuses to take the licence at the bidding price.

“If none takes, two private WiMax operators along with Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Ltd (BTCL) will provide broadband services,” he said.

Industry insiders said the foreign equity partners of the local WiMax bidders refused to invest in the sector as they say the high auction price is not viable in the market like Bangladesh.

The BTRC distributed 35 MHz spectrums to each winner. As per the WiMax guidelines, three companies will have to start operations by March 2009.

Bangladesh’s high-speed wireless internet market will be introduced by launching WiMax technology. At present, the country has one million internet users. Bangladesh is also one of the lowest internet-penetrated countries with having less than one percent internet users.

WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a wireless digital communication system that can provide broadband wireless access across 30 miles for fixed phone, and 3-10 miles for mobile stations.

Source: Daily Star

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has given the BWA services licence to Banglalion Communications Limited (BCL).

BCL Chairman Major (Retd) Abdul Mannan, Bangladesh Finance and Investment Company Limited (BD Finance) Managing Director GM Salehuddin Ahmed and City General Insurance Company Limited Managing Director Md Sujauddin Ahmed received the licence on behalf of the Banglalion at the BTRC head office in the city recently.

Senior officials of BTRC, BCL and other organisations were present on the occasion.

Under the licence, the BCL will be allowed to provide different kinds of services using WiMAX technology.

Banglalion being the highest bidder at Tk 2.15 billion (215 crore) at the open outcry bidding held on September 24 last became eligible for receiving the licence.

Source: Financial Express

The decision to take WiMAX licence would push Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Ltd (BTCL) to have private partnership, form a separate company, invest in excess of $250 million and take significant long-term business and technological risks.

The state-owned company has decided to ask Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to relax its November 16 deadline to obtain the licence by paying $31.6 million. This request is being made as the BTCL decided to take a “strategic” partner from the private sector to minimise the “risk factor”.

BTCL’s decision for WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) licence was almost imposed by the regulator that awarded three WiMAX licences to private companies through an auction in September. The BTRC said the state-owned telecom company could take one WiMAX licence at the highest auction rate or at $31.6 million. The deadline for obtaining this licence expires on November 16.

Following the BTRC proposal, the BTCL formed a committee headed by a general manager. Sources said the committee in its report recommended taking strategic partner and suggested that BTCL’s presence in WiMAX operations will prevent syndicated market control by the three private operators.

“Our experience from Teletalk shows that BTCL’s WiMAX operations will also stimulate the broadband market,” said a high official.

To have the strategic partner, BTCL will have to select a partner through an open tender, for which the state-owned company will at first publish an Expression of Interest (EoI) and do the legal vetting on the proposed framework of partnership.

After a partner is found, BTCL will form a separate company for WiMAX operations since the partner cannot own or take credit for existing assets and operations of the state-owned company.

A committee is now working on assessing the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) and risk factor of the WiMAX venture of BTCL.

While BTCL officials believe that it can buy the WiMAX licence right away, a telecom expert asks if the state-owned company actually has the $31.6 million ready to pay BTRC.

The government’s objective is to offload shares of BTCL to the public. “Strategic partner or not, the WiMAX venture will certainly hit the financial health of BTCL and it will inevitably impact the state-owned company’s book value… That is the biggest blow to public interest,” said the high official.

Again international telecom and broadband experts say that the BTCL’s WiMAX venture would need investment of at least $250 million to build a nation-wide WiMAX network. “Any new WiMAX venture will take six to nine years to reach the break-even point,” said an expert.

“The same broadband network would cost half the price if it is done through 3G technology [fast wide area cellular telephone network],” said the expert, adding, “It will take less than a year to hit the break-even point because of wider availability of 3G devices in the market.”

“But the main argument is why push BTCL into such a risky venture. It should concentrate on land-line telecom business while letting the private sector take risks in wireless broadband,” he said.

Of the three private winners of WiMAX licences, the highest bidder Bangla Lion immediately admitted of quoting too high and ultimately failed to make timely down payment for the licence. Another local bidder BRAC also missed the payment deadline. The BTRC, citing global investment crisis, granted both defaulters 30 days of grace period that would end on November 16.

The third bidder, owned by a foreign entity named Augure, has made the payment timely and bagged the only WiMAX licence as yet. “It shows that the global investment crisis is not quite a just excuse for rescheduling the deadline for the payments,” notes an official.

“Why does the BTCL need a strategic partner in the first place to run this business? It has been running the domestic and international voice and data services pretty well,” he says, adding, “Is this proposed partnership required? WiMAX technology has no proven track record of commercial success anywhere in the world.”

He said back in the late 90’s, the government had forcibly made BTTB (Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board now turned into BTCL) forge a 50 percent partnership with a private company named BBTT (Bangladesh Broadcasting Telephone & Technology) for Personal Handiphone System operations. This operation never saw the light of day and the current government cancelled the licence of BBTT, he added.

Despite such criticism, BTCL officials see future in WiMAX. “WiMAX is the future of broadband technology,” said an official when asked if depending on WiMAX could be too risky especially since there is no instance of commercial success of any WiMAX network around the world.

Developed internationally by the WiMAX Forum, a WiMAX tower provides broadband speed without the requirement of cables up to 50 square km.

Supporters of 3G and Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology argue that the present 3G technology allows data transmission at the rate of 3.6 Mbps and 7.2 Mbps, which busts the myth of WiMAX superiority.

“There are 3.21 billion GSM, WCDMA-HSPA subscriptions worldwide and the GSM, WCDMA has 87.95% market share of mobile communications subscriptions worldwide,” said an expert, “Bangladesh cannot swim against this global stream and be benefited by it.”

Source: Daily Star

Can mobile WiMax work for business users who are looking for high-speed wireless Internet access?

Sprint Nextel Corp. and financial backers that include Intel Corp. and Google Inc. think it can. “We’re definitely targeting businesses,” said Barry West, president of Sprint’s Xohm unit, which launched its namesake network in Baltimore in late September and plans to expand the WiMax offering to five more cities by early next year.

Even though the eventual nationwide rollout of Xohm is just starting, West said it’s possible to make a compelling case for business uses of the network, particularly at small and midsize companies. He claimed that 70% of business activities are conducted within 50 miles of workers’ homes — a statistic that should make a fast citywide network like Xohm look appealing, he said.

But Xohm and WiMax in general have some obvious limitations, according to wireless technology analysts. The biggest one, for now, is that the Sprint network is operational in only one city. Large companies likely wouldn’t want to support laptop PCs and handheld devices on a network like Xohm unless it’s running in numerous locales.

Another issue is how far Xohm can reach within cities, and whether the so-called 4G wireless technology can provide users with consistently good service. Even in Baltimore, about 30% of the 300 antennas that Sprint plans to install still weren’t in place as of early October.

To help ensure full coverage for Xohm users, Sprint is working with hardware manufacturers to make available by year’s end a laptop USB modem or aircard that can switch between the WiMax service and existing 3G wireless networks. Analysts such as Gartner Inc.’s Phillip Redman said it will be hard to know how truly mobile Xohm users can be until that gear is tested.

In addition, some analysts simply aren’t convinced that there will be much demand for WiMax’s high-speed mobile capabilities among business users. “There’s a legitimate question whether this is mobile broadband for soccer moms,” Redman said.

At least one company has started using the Xohm network in Baltimore. National Imaging Systems Inc., which sells Hewlett-Packard printers and printing supplies, has connected seven laptops and desktop PCs to the Sprint network via a single WiMax modem from ZyXel Communications Corp.

National Imaging has 17 employees and is based in a warehouse and office park in Glen Burnie, Md., about eight miles south of downtown Baltimore. Richard Levy, the company’s CEO, said the office park isn’t served by cable or DSL networks, so WiMax was a welcome alternative to the T1 line that National Imaging had been relying on for all of its voice, data and video transmissions.

“When I read about WiMax coming, I was on the phone right away ordering it,” Levy said. The T1 service wasn’t sufficient, especially when workers started making phone calls at the same time, he noted. So now National Imaging uses WiMax for data and video, leaving the T1 to handle only its voice calls.

Part of Levy’s plan is to use Xohm along with Skype to support live videoconferencing between customers and the company’s technicians on repair calls. “If you can show the customer what you want to do, it makes it a lot easier,” he said.

Faster Is Better

Thus far, Levy said, the WiMax service is working satisfactorily, even when the downlink speed is just above the minimum level of 2Mbit/sec. that Sprint promises users. But, he added, if transmission speeds increase as the Baltimore network is built out, “that would be even better.”

Wasif Malik, director of mobile solutions at the Ohio State University Medical Center, said that like many other IT managers, he’s itching for a faster wireless network to meet the needs of bandwidth-hungry end users. Malik supports hundreds of medical residents and students who use iPhones or other handhelds and require voice-calling capabilities as well as the ability to access online medical references and other data on the Web.

“It’s crucial to us to have a faster network,” Malik said. “WiMax is interesting, and I’m interested in testing it.” The medical center’s network administrators would probably insist on having users convert to a Wi-Fi network inside the hospital grounds, he said. But when users are off the property, a high-speed technology like WiMax could be helpful.

WiMax, which is based on the IEEE 802.16e standard, looks to be “much more secure” than Wi-Fi is, said Jorge Mata, CIO for the Los Angeles Community College District. Mata also thinks WiMax could provide a larger area of coverage with less infrastructure than broadband wireless technologies require now. The only drawback, he said, is that Xohm’s availability is so limited at the moment.

Sprint’s Xohm unit is being folded into a joint venture with wireless ISP Clearwire Corp. to continue the network’s deployment. The new company, which will be called Clearwire , is scheduled to be in place this quarter. Rollout plans call for Xohm to be launched in Chicago and Washington by year’s end and in Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas-Fort Worth in 2009.

Inevitably, there will be questions about how solid the new Clearwire’s financial footing is. But Sprint and Clearwire officials insist that users have nothing to worry about on that front, pointing to the $3.2 billion in funding that the joint venture is getting from Google, Intel and three cable companies. That will cover nearly half of the projected $7 billion cost of expanding the Xohm network to 100 cities by the end of 2010.

Another possible roadblock for WiMax, though, is competition with the rival Long Term Evolution wireless technology. LTE networks aren’t expected to be deployed until 2011 at the earliest, but that technology is the upgrade path of choice for mobile network operators that support the dominant GSM standard.

In a recent white paper, Forrester Research Inc. said WiMax could eventually be used to augment existing broadband connections ? for example, to extend Wi-Fi signals or even wired LANs to spots within a building or office campus that couldn’t be reached otherwise. WiMax could also be more cost-efficient than other cellular technologies, because it can support more users within the range of a single antenna, Forrester said.

But for now, Xohm’s lack of reach is a big turnoff for corporate users, Forrester analyst Lisa Pierce said via e-mail. “Until significantly greater service availability exists,” she wrote, “WiMax won’t be anything more than a trial [technology] or curiosity to enterprises.”

Source: Computer world

Tee Emm writes that Pakistan has its claim to fame to mostly negative news in the international media. But the Muslim nation of 160 million (half of which are young adults) is a telecommunications pioneer — with a second nationwide Wimax brand going live from Mobilink Infinity.

Mobilink, which has the highest subscriber base of over 30 million subscribers (out of the total 80 million users nationwide), has launched its Wimax brand called Mobilink Infinity. Orascom Telecom is the parent company of the Mobilink Wimax venture under the Mobilink Infinity brandname.

The network is essentially 802.16e based mobile Wimax and has been launched in Karachi, the commercial capital of Pakistan and also the second most populous city in the world with 16 million citizens. The CPE costs Rs 6,000 ($77) one-time and monthly subscriptions are available in 256kbps, 512 kbps and 1 mb categories. The integrated VoIP based analog voice port allows local loop telephony to the user with preferential rates for the (dominating) Moblilink network.

Earlier Pakistan got the worlds largest nationwide Wimax Network from Wateen Telecom, a new telecoms business venture of the Abu Dhabi Group that also owns the popular cellular brand Warid in Pakistan. Wateen’s Wimax (built on Motorola Wimax gear, pdf) has received mixed response and some believe that the less than perfect launch of the much hyped product has more to do with the company’s operations rather than the technology limitations.

The problems have accumulated enough to give Wimax a bad name. New operators are expected to avoid the technology name (wimax) in their upcoming products in the local market due to this reason.

Around two weeks ago, Worldcall, an overseas investment of Omantel of Oman in Pakistan, launched its CDMA EvDO services on top of its popular CDMA based Wireless Local Loop voice services. Marketed under the catchy marketing campaign using ‘Footloose ‘, the service uses Anydata ’s USB modem as its EvDO CPE.

Some estimates puts Pakistan’s teledensity as the highest in the region.

DATA (Rs.)

256Kbps

512Kbps

1Mbps

15 GB

1,000

1,200

1500

5 GB

450

700

900

Additional data rate will be Rs. 30 per 100 MB.

VOICE (Rs.)

LR 100

LR 200

LR 500

Line Rent

100

200

500

Free Minutes

To Mobilink

50

100

200

To Fixed Line + Mobile

25

50

100

VOICE PACKAGE (Rs.)

Infinity to Infinity

Free

Calls to Mobilink GSM

1.50

1.25

1.00

Mobilink F&F (up to 3 numbers)

0.75

0.65

0.50

Off-net Mobile Calls

3.00

2.50

2.00

Off-net Fixed Line Calls

2.00

2.00

1.50

International

Same as GSM rates of Mobilink

INSTALLATION / UPFRONT COST (Rs.)

Rs.

Customer Premises Equipment (CPE)

6,000

Security Deposit Refundable (for 5 GB)

2,000

Security Deposit Refundable (for 15 GB)

2,500

MALAYSIA–The government has issued a stern warning to the country’s WiMax license holders that they may lose their right to offer such services if they fail to meet certain terms and conditions by year-end.

Three of the four licensees only managed to launch their services end of last month, and must now meet the next looming deadline to ensure their networks cover 25 percent of the Malaysian population by year-end. The service providers were initially expected to roll out commercial services by end-2007.

“Frankly, I am just waiting for whoever that can’t deliver,” Minister of Energy, Water and Communications Shaziman Abu Mansor, warned last month after launching the country’s first 802.16e mobile WiMax service by Packet One Network (P1). “I want to take the license and give it to someone who is serious to roll out [the WiMax services].”

Shaziman also said the ministry would ensure the WiMax operators complied with the standard of services promised, such as availability and speed of connection, and would not hesitate to take action if they breached the conditions.

Apart from P1, REDtone International and Asiaspace also managed to launch their WiMax services at the tail-end of last month. However, YTL’s subsidiary Y-Max Networks has yet to launch its service.

Shaziman was firm about the year-end deadline for WiMax licensees to achieve a minimum 25 percent population coverage. License holders will also need to cover at least 40 percent of the population in areas they are licensed within three years. P1, Y-Max and Asiaspace can roll out their services nationwide, while REDtone is confined to the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Threat will encourage compliance
A telecommunications analyst at a local research house based in Kuala Lumpur, said he would not be surprised if Shaziman decides to crack the whip on errant licensees, given the earlier fiasco where companies awarded 3G spectrums failed to roll out services as stipulated.

“When the WiMax licensees signed the agreement with the government, they knew what the requirements were. If they fail to meet the deadlines, they must be prepared to incur the penalties,” said the analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity, in a phone interview with ZDNet Asia.

“I think the minister means it when he says he will revoke their licenses, and it is possible he’ll make an example of someone,” he said.

The analyst added that any action to make good of this threat would be a positive development for the country, as it would encourage telecommunication licensees to take government regulations seriously.

He also noted there had not been much information from Y-Max regarding its WiMax rollout. “As it is backed by public-listed YTL, I don’t see financing as an issue. The delay in rolling out their service may well be related to technical issues,” he added.

When contacted, a Y-Max official confirmed the company had yet to officially launch its service as it is setting up its network infrastructure and working with devices vendors to offer a variety of WiMax-enabled devices to users. He said the company’s technology partner for the rollout was U.S.-based Sprint Nextel’s XOHM business unit.

In a phone interview with ZDNet Asia, the Y-Max spokesperson said the company was currently testing its service in the Bukit Bintang area of Kuala Lumpur. He denied Y-Max had missed the government’s Aug. 31 deadline, saying the server provider already has “live services” for some customers, albeit still at the pilot stage.

Pressed to reveal the commercial launch date of the company’s WiMax service, he said: “[It will be] very soon.”

Source: ZD Net Asia



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