Much before the auction of spectrum for broadband wireless access, Tata Communications (TCL) has roped in 50,000 subscribers for its broadband services using WiMax technology.
Tata Communications Internet Services (TCISL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of TCL, is investing substantially for its WiMax rollout service to ensure that it gets a headstart in the acquisition of subscribers.
The company, with a WiMax capex outlay of $500 million for three years ending FY12, has put in place around 1,400 base stations across 140 cities. This makes it the largest WiMax network in the world, according to TCISL COO Prateek Pashine.
“We are offering enterprise and broadband connectivity services. The Tatas will continue to invest in WiMax and will move into top gear after the spectrum auction,” Mr Pashine added.
The company is targeting two lakh subscribers by March 2010 for which it will enter into 20 new cities next year.
"Right now, we are in the process of filling the capacities created," he said.
TCISL has procured its WiMax equipment from Telsima Corp, a company recently bought over by Harris Stratex Networks. It is sourcing customer premise equipment (CPE) from Taiwan-based networking and communications equipment firm Universal Scientific Industrial (USI). Mr Pashine said while the industry's revenue per user per month were around Rs 300-400, TCISL was clocking a four-digit ARPU. "It is in the range of Rs 1,000-1,100," he said.
TCL, earlier known as VSNL, had received WiMax spectrum in the 3.3 Ghz band under its internet service provider (ISP) licence. Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Sify and Reliance Communications are some of the other companies that own spectrum in this band. These players pay for spectrum at Rs 2.88 lakh per base station per year. In addition to this, operators pay a licence fee of Rs 1,000 per CPE each year, a levy on which they want a waiver.
Apart from WiMax platform, TCISL offers high-speed internet services through DSL and metro ethernet also. Tata Communications had hived off its broadband business to TCISL in 2007. This TCL arm has been acquiring around 4,500 customers per month across India.
On the much-delayed spectrum auctions, Mr Pashine said the industry was eagerly looking forward to offering services in the 2.2-2.3 Ghz band, which will be auctioned later this year. "The postponement has delayed customer acquisition and rollout of services and revenues associated with that," he said.