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Connecting the next billion - WiMAX to provide internet access for the unconnected
TT Correspondent |  |  23 Mar 2011

One of the most appealing characteristics of WiMAX is the allure of a well developed open patent pool which facilitates commercial applications worldwide. Lower costs, broader bandwidth, and highly flexible deployment complete the picture. Even in a global financial downturn, WiMAX remains a natural fit. The escalating popularity of Internet services from streaming online videos to music search and hi-def movie downloads has been spurred by ADSL. As demand for wireless data, networks grows, networks become increasingly crowded. As the next generation standard of IEEE802.16, 802.16m can provide excellent ultra broadband performance cost-effectively, making WiMAX one of the best choices for the operators capitalizing on the prevailing interest in broadband Internet.

Clearly, WiMAX is the ideal technology for basic broadband. Worldwide, the use of broadband falls into two categories; basic broadband and enhanced broadband. Basic broadband enables broadband and provides bedrock for broadband services. From basic we move in a very literal way to mobile broadband. While basic broadband provides a strong foundation, enhanced broadband becomes a catalyst for growth.

Ideal technology for rural areas

WiMAX has a great potential to connect those areas of the world that remain deprived from benefits of access to information. It's much more practical to use WiMAX in rural areas where one base station could serve a wide area. Furthermore, WiMAX can be practical for backhaul with those kinds of distances between base stations and with the broadband capabilities. WiMAX base stations are particularly cost-effective in rural areas, because of the range of 50 kilometers. Furthermore, in many of these areas, the need for mobility is limited. In rural regions, not many people have motor transport, so mobility is not an issue.

In rural areas, the application which is of major importance is voice. In these areas, there is no other access method. The only question, then, is how to build up the core. At this point, India has made a huge investment in Class 5 switches, and there is still capacity on those switches. Operators are not going to be anxious to move to softswitches. Therefore, when using WiMAX for voice applications, operators will need to use gateway products like Commatch 6004 to provide connectivity of WiMAX end users to existing TDM switches. Using this kind of low-cost solution is an important factor in making WiMAX a feasible technology for an immediate voice access solution in rural areas. It remains to be seen how inexpensively WiMAX can be deployed, primarily because today's installations are fairly small.

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