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In the largest deployment of WiMAX anywhere in the world, state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) will soon float a tender to offer wireless broadband service in 1,000 cities across the country.

Globally, WiMAX, termed a disruptive technology by Business Week, is undergoing over 200 trials and deployed at some 40 locations commercially. It has forced mobile service providers worldwide to start trials, marrying GSM/3G cellular service with WiMAX.

Sources said BSNL is awaiting the final policy announcement by India’s Department of Telecommunications. If the policy is announced this month, it hopes to finalise the tender by July so that deployment can begin by September. The plan would install some 1,000 basestations in a mix of non-line of sight (NLOS) and line of sight (LOS).

Samsung Electronics, has released three new Mobile WiMAX devices (WiBro in Korea) – a WiBro smart phone (SPH-M8100), a multimedia convergence device (SPH-P9000), a USB Dongle (SPH-H1200) and a PCMCIA card.

BSNL has some 47 million basic POTs subscribers, 20 Million GSM subscribers and more than 37,000 fixed exchanges. From a base of 0.27 million WiMAX and pre-WiMAX subscribers in 2006, Research and Markets expects total WiMAX subscribers to reach 31.43 million by 2012 in 16 Asia/Pacific countries. Clearwire has operations in the US, Denmark, Belgium, Ireland, and in Mexico (via MVSnet).

Sprint, with some 26 million CDMA cellular subscribers in the United States, expects to spend some $3 billion on their WiMAX network to reach more than 100 million Americans in 17 cities by the end of 2008. Whether Sprint will be able to pick up, say, 10% of that 100M in 5 years is anyone’s guess.

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