Indian Mobile Infrastructure – To 3G or Not To 3G


To maximum remote places investors circa 1994, a first study the Indian Telecommunication Policy appeared to mitigate worries. In our naiveté, we predicted this Policy to place India as a minimum on par with China wherein a stifling regime ruled telecommunications. A disastrous implementation but ensured India languished in the back of its neighbor on teledensity, mobile usage, and broadband coverage.

Fortunately, later developments just like the Unified Licensing Scheme, albeit a reactionary response to activities threatening to crush TRAI (the Regulator), do pull Indian de-law ahead of even places like Hong Kong in which a unified state of affairs is simplest just being discussed. Merits of particular elements of de-law notwithstanding, the overseas investor expects to peer a clear roadmap ahead if the boom in permissible FDI to 74% has to hold any that means. The latest imbroglio at the future of the 1900MHz band is an amazing possibility for TRAI to apply the debate to draw up exactly this kind of map.

Of identical challenge to the overseas investor and something on which operators on both sides of the GSM-CDMA divide concur, is the demise of a high margin call for. The future holds a long slog uphill for every rupee growth to the ARPU (Average Revenue according to User). Making it extra interesting is the futility of erstwhile successful product and marketing techniques under ultra-modern margin situations. Additionally, while one ultimate appeared, the government had its hand inside the until for an improbable 22-25% of sales inside the shape of license expenses, revenue percentage and a second license fee through a disingenuous “spectrum usage rate”. Add the Access Deficit Charge (ADC) ransom being paid out to the Dominant service BSNL and one can’t blame some investors for setting aside their calculators and heading for the door.

With cellular collection fees at abysmal ranges thanks to the pseudo-WLL/CDMA rollouts, the mobile operators take a look at additional infrastructure investments with trepidation. However, modern price-introduced services being one of the few ways to elevate ARPUs out of their funk, invest they ought to. How intelligently they achieve this, makes a decision their fate.

The 2003-04 EDGE (Enhanced Data for GSM Evolution) deployment via a few GSM operators in the form of reaction one hoped to look. Cost successfully imparting 3 times the facts potential of GPRS, EDGE gives operators like Bharti, Hutch and IDEA the shipping system to provide revolutionary data and enjoyment primarily based services, as well as economically project into rural areas. Using the equal TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) frame shapes as GSM, EDGE permits current cell plans to stay intact. On the other hand, it uses a new modulation scheme this is also used for UMTS/3G. This makes it a form of a half-way house to 3G, for the ones nevertheless courageous sufficient to contemplate that alternative. However whilst EDGE changed into a clever selection, the jury continues to be out on 3G.

Emulating European cellular operators whose song record belies such faith, some Indian cellular carriers have although commenced chalking out transition paths toward that Holy Grail. Even if the gathering rates in India had been not as dismal as they’re, deploying 3G can be a disaster waiting to happen. It changed into heartening therefore whilst the Indian IT Minister stated closing yr that India targets to leapfrog to fourth-era wireless technology, skipping 3G as it has not been determined cost-powerful. This is one of the uncommon events whilst the industry is nicely served via listening to its Minister.

However, these are mere words until the Honorable Minister first unfetters VOIP (Voice-over-IP). Unless the chastity belt round VOIP networks is discarded and they may be allowed to mingle with the PSTN, India is going to tie itself into knots over 4G, internal which by way of the way, the pervasive subject is IP. Living out of doors India one generally lags in the back of unfolding events, however to the pleasant of my understanding even nowadays the VOIP – PSTN interconnect exceedingly, stay illegal.

One useful outcome to the 1996 fiasco surrounding the bids for local circles has been an all-round reluctance to don’t forget in addition auctions, consisting of for 3G. This stored Indian operators from the destiny of their European counterparts. While Europe’s 3G license expenses did nothing too comfortable a destiny for the generation, emerging OFDMA (WiFi/ WiMax MMDS) alternatives may also thoroughly supply the coup de grace. Whatever the counter-arguments accessible, the reality that 3G offerings in The UK still motel to distress income of simple voice services to garner a consumer base, says all of it.

Unlike EDGE, going 3G does now not just involve software enhancements and the math turns into more daunting by way of orders of significance. For starters, the air-interface/ body structure (WCDMA as towards TDMA) is absolutely specific. This means changes at each mobile-site inside the community. And then of the route, there is the complete wherewithal required to inter-function with present 2G factors of the community.

An opportunity, however, does exist, that until these days dare no longer talk its name for fear of the Telecommunication established order.

Contrary to bad press stemming in large part from the big cell operators, it’s feasible to co-opt Wireless LANs (WLANs) into one eco-machine with cell networks. An EDGE-enabled cell network patched into WLAN (WiFi/WiMax) networks in excessive density places may want to allow Indian operators to deliver excessive-pace statistics offerings with laser precision exactly where required and at far fewer costs than in 3G-ing a similar area. I accept as true with that is corresponding to what the IT Minister has in mind. Additionally, such meshed community may want to provide indoor voice connectivity over mobile phones in broadband-enabled locations with poor mobile reception.

An interesting twist comes from the recent furtive WiMax deployment in Japan by Vodafone and someplace else by different marquee 3G operators, vindicating the placement taken on this paper.

The cell operator may additionally ought to provide specific fixed line/broadband type tariff structures in these locations, raising fears that they could consume into cell sales, But one has to marvel how a lot of the generated traffic might constitute cannibalized revenue and how much would carry in incremental dollars from traffic currently going any manner over constant/wi-fi broadband and over the exclusive flavors of Voice over Broadband (VoB) offerings used increasingly more from exactly such locations.

No one touts OFDMA air-interfaces as an opportunity to WCDMA /3G. It’s the combination of the two techniques that create a doubtlessly winning opportunity, particularly inside the Indian context. Integrating selected WLAN Hotspots into a cell network calls for an IP Network Controller (INC), an IP get entry to network, a patch to allow the WLAN access community to the difficulty the relevant accounting data to the cellular AAA (authentication, authorization, and accounting) server and an investment in IP roaming. Barring a few greater widgets, that is basically it.

Given the relative simplicity of this solution, all and sundry who has visible engineers sweat over cellular website deployment in congested places has to marvel why the operators have now not already adopted WLAN to enhance cell coverage at the cheap.

Costs aside, there may be a thrilling thing of a 3G era that might force operators to keep in mind OFDMA based totally options to augment mobile facts shipping structures. It won’t be not unusual know-how, however, 3G differs from 2G (GSM) in one essential component – the interdependence of community best. In 2G, high traffic in one place tends to introduce poor excellent in just the particular mobile overlaying that area. In 3G but, the horrific great additionally impacts surrounding cells because a mobile length can also vary depending on the site visitors load it incorporates. Called “cell-respiration” that is because of the interdependence between ability and insurance over WCDMA air-interfaces and could emerge as impacting voice fine.

No provider but goes to jeopardize voice satisfactory and the ability for the sake of facts. This implies there are deserves to a separate data-centric network. And if such options are available as a minimum at the peripheries, at prices notably lower than the vaunted 3G and if those alternatives seem slated to end up the bulwark of destiny 4G information transport mechanisms, it then without a doubt behooves the Indian cellular operator no longer to undertake the equal blinkered thinking it really is the hallmark of his European counterpart and to appearance critically at a GSM/EDGE-WLAN primarily based solution.

It baffles why rather than prevaricating, the European and American cell groups have not swooped in and vastly sequestered wireless access for IP site visitors from the fragmented however doubtlessly formidable WLAN and Voice over Broadband (VoB) gamers. After all, at the least, for now, the mobile operator holds all of the playing cards. Only he receives to determine whether the purchaser receives a blended mobile + WLAN invoice. This gives his combined cell-WLAN provider a killer gain over every other Fixed/wi-fi broadband or Vonage-kind VoB imparting. By now the cell operators may want to have usurped fantastic chunks of IP traffic and decimated the upstart VOB gamers before they ever took root. Alternatively, only an announcement of motive should have the WLAN & VOB players scurrying to barter interconnect and sales percentage agreements on phrases that might best be favorable to the cell operator.