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BWA Auction Is Bad News for WiMax's FutureBWA Auction Is Bad News for WiMax's Future

LTE winners in India's BWA auctions put another big dent in WiMax's ambition to be a widespread global standard

Dan Jones

June 11, 2010

3 Min Read
BWA Auction Is Bad News for WiMax's Future

Long Term Evolution (LTE) won big in India's Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum auction, and that spells more trouble for rival technology WiMax while boosting the credibility for a version of LTE that uses one channel for both data downloads and uplinks.

Internet service provider Infotel Broadband Services won big with a pan-India license for $2.74 billion. The startup was promptly acquired by massive domestic conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) (RIL), which says it will use LTE to deploy broadband services across the country. (See India's BWA Auction Ends in $8.2B Drama.)

US chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) also won spectrum in four of the auction areas, including spectrum that covers India's two largest cities, New Delhi and Mumbai. Qualcomm has laid out plans to use Time Division-LTE (TD-LTE) for its deployments in India. TD-LTE is ideal for deploying mobile TV and other multimedia services. (See Qualcomm Unveils LTE Plans for India.)

"With its successful bid for BWA spectrum in two of the largest circles, Dehli and Mumbai, Qualcomm has succeeded in prioritizing TD-LTE as the technology of choice for implementing BWA networks in India," says Berge Ayvazian, senior consultant at Heavy Reading. "Qualcomm still needs to secure an Indian operator partner and it is likely that Bharti and Aircell would be high on their list of candidate partners."Ayvazian says the "defense of WiMax" is now left to smaller ISPs such as Tikona Digital and Augere (Mauritius), which won licenses in six of the 22 areas -- or "circles" -- in India covered by the auction. "The WiMAX ecosystem will have no choice but to convince Infotel and RIL that 802.16e technology should be used to deploy its nationwide BWA network, if they have not already joined the TD-LTE camp," the analyst notes.

The Indian auctions mark the latest win for LTE over WiMax:

  • Major Russian broadband provider Yota recently said it will use LTE for upcoming deployments. The operator had been a big proponent of WiMax in Russia. (See LTE Watch: Yota Drops WiMax for LTE and Yota: WiMax + LTE for Russia.)

    Yota has said that it is "still evaluating the options" on whether it will use the more traditional frequency division (FD) version of LTE or TD-LTE. As Ayvazian notes, however, they have LTE basestations on order now and it is unlikely that TD-LTE base stations would be available to fulfill Yota's initial requirements.

  • Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) is asking the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) to develop a profile that would allow TD-LTE to be deployed in the US in the 2.6GHz spectrum. (See Clearwire Paves Way for LTE in US and Clearwire Is a WiMax Company (For Now).)

  • Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) is testing the technology in Ireland.

  • SoftBank Mobile Corp. is considering using TD-LTE in Japan. (See TD-LTE in Japan?)

    TD-LTE is the easiest technology for WiMax providers to use to supplement or replace WiMax networks in unpaired spectrum. Both TD-LTE and WiMax use one band -- a single carrier -- to transmit data up and down. The up and down data is sent in differently timed packets on the same link. Typical LTE deployments use two carriers with a guard band between the frequencies, like normal cellular networks.

    TD-LTE was originally pioneered by China Mobile Communications Corp. , which intends to use the technology on the mainland. CMCC currently has a trial TD-LTE network running at the Shanghai Expo. (See AsiaWatch: LTE Action Heats Up.)

    — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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