BSNL Chennai Telephones has rolled out the first rural broadband service using WiMAX, or Wireless Interoperability for Microwave Access, at the Katchur PHC near Uthukottai in Thiruvallur.
The WiMAX service commissioned on Thursday will provide the first feel of a next generation technology (4G) that is touted to help bridge the digital divide.
While BSNL has already been providing WiMAX connectivity to Common Service Centres in Tamil Nadu Circle, the service launched in Uthukottai is the first in Chennai circle and represents a test bed of sorts for Chennai Telephones.
“We want the first WiMAX service to become a demonstrable model that is commercially viable before exploring new markets,” an official told The Hindu.
WiMAX is an IP-based wireless broadband technology that provides Internet access for any device on any network within a designated zone. Providing speeds ranging between 256 Kbps and 2 Mbps, WiMAX is ideal for home connections or for the segment of Small Office Home Office (SOHO) users, who would want to toggle between personal and official usage with a single connection.
WiMAX is also a unique offering from BSNL in the sense that it comes without being bundled with a landline connection.
WiMAX can provide wireless broadband connectivity for a 15-km Line of Sight range in villages and a 4-km radius in a city. Unlike the circumscribed access that a Wi-Fi hotspot provides, WiMAX represents the next generation of wireless broadband technologies that can link up larger areas.
“The relevance of WiMAX lies in its ability to empower people in areas that cannot be reached by conventional broadband technology,” a Chennai Telephones official said.
BSNL is offering a WiMAX connection for users with a personal computer/laptop who will have to opt between purchasing or renting a wireless device - the Customer Premise Equipment - that costs in the range of Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000.
BSNL also has an urban WiMAX rollout plan that will begin when the grid of 2G and 3G Base Transceiver Stations is completed in Chennai.