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VSNL plans WiMAX launch in January

Mumbai, Dec. 25: VSNL plans to launch its retail WiMAX services in January.

The services will be initially offered in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad. Later, it will be extended to 35 other cities. Over the next three years, VSNL expects to extend it to 125 tier II towns.

The company plans to invest $500 million to $600 million over three years to build signal towers.

WiMAX, or worldwide interoperability for microwave access, is a wide-area highspeed wireless broadband technology that has the capacity to connect remote areas. While a similar and more familiar technology, Wi-Fi, handles local areas within offices or hotspots, WiMAX has a much wider range.

VSNL is already providing WiMAX services to some enterprise customers in Bangalore.

Reliance Communications, which provides the service to enterprise customers in Bangalore and Pune, will give VSNL tough competition next year. The company is planning to extend its services to 10 more cities this fiscal.

In a pilot project, BSNL has also set up 10 WiMAX base stations in Bangalore, Chennai, Calcutta, Pune, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Hissar, Pinjore, Rohtak and Panipat. It is planning to connect over 10,000 villages with high speed wireless broadband services via an extensive WiMAX network in phases.

Industry watchers feel WiMAX will enable wireless infrastructure deployment in a cost-effective and decentralised manner, especially in a country such as India, which is inadequately covered by wireline infrastructure.

WiMAX will also allow mobile Internet access at much higher speed than is available at present, they said.

VSNL, which is undergoing a rebranding exercise to transform into Tata Communications Ltd, is looking to double its revenues to $5 billion in the next five years.

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