Convergence India: Alvarion Eyes WiMax Growth

NEW DELHI -- Convergence India 2010 -- Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM)'s application to take part in India's BWA (broadband wireless access) spectrum auction and introduce TD-Long Term Evolution (LTE) into the country may have put a question mark against the WiMax camp's plans for widespread rollout, but WiMax equipment vendor Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) is confident it will double its revenues from the Indian market in the coming two years. (See Qualcomm Unveils LTE Plans for India, India's WiMax Camp Wants Intel's Support, and Bids Flood In for India's Spectrum Auctions.)

Alvarion, which markets a range of WiMax infrastructure products and associated professional services, as well as other wireless broadband products, is one of the sector's leading vendors, with total global revenues in 2009 of $245 million, of which $179 million came from WiMax sales. (See Alvarion Reports Q4, Alvarion Unveils License-Free WiMax, and Alvarion Lands Largest Gov't-Backed WiMax Deal.)

The Israeli company is already active in India, counting Aircel Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) as customers. In addition, Alvarion is one of a number of partners in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) 's 10 billion Indian rupees (US$220 million) rural mobile WiMax project (though the extent of its involvement is not known) and plans to participate in the state-owned operator's planned urban rollout, too, with a shortlist of potential vendors expected within the next two months. (See Bharti Picks Alvarion.)

It won't, though, talk about the current value of its business in India, only that it believes it can double its unspecified revenues in the coming years. This confident outlook is based on two factors.

First, the high number of applicants wanting to participate in the BWA auction -- 11 in total.

"We see huge growth potential for WiMax in the country, especially [following] the coming BWA auction. We had envisaged three or four players would file applications for the spectrum auction, but this is a surprise" Ashish Sharma, the company's VP of marketing, tells Light Reading Asia.

Sharma also notes that the cost of WiMax devices and customer premises equipment (CPE) is falling, so "there are going to be economies of scale for the carriers."

There is also the prospect that WiMax will be used for residential broadband rollouts, in addition to the current enterprise broadband wireless focus.

Secondly, the company is ramping up its presence in the Indian market. Alvarion has been operating in India for many years and has decided it's time to ramp up its presence. It has recently appointed 30 local partners to focus on the Indian market and has opened offices in Gurgaon.

"We believe in localizing as much as possible. As of now we have around 20 employees in the country, but we will be ramping our headcount as well," says Sharma.

The company plans to focus on a number of vertical sectors, such as public security and the municipality segment.

It faces strong competition, though, as local rival Gemini Communications Ltd., which won the lion's share of BSNL's rural rollout tender, as well as Aviat Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AVNW) (formerly Harris Stratex, which acquired Indian WiMax vendor Telsima), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Samsung Corp. , and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) are all active in the Indian WiMax market. (See Harris Stratex Snaps Up Telsima for $12M.)

— Gagandeep Kaur, India Editor, Light Reading

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