6.9 mln WiMax users by 2011: Gartner

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New Delhi, Mar 26 (UNI) WiMax technology, though still in its nascent stages, expects to garner over 6.9 million WiMax connections on both mobile and fixed platforms by the end of 2011.

Even as the Indian government is strongly promoting WiMax, the country-specific mobile broadband framework is proving to be a major hurdle in the rollout cost, according to a study by global research firm Gartner.

Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX) is a telecommunications technology that provides wireless data over long distances.

Although the technology is presented as an important driver for broadband policy in the country, the government has failed to effectively motivate operators to roll out countrywide mobile broadband, the study said.

WiMax has been selected by the government to connect rural areas to the Internet but with low personal computer penetration, there has been a limited demand for the service.

By January 2008, India had only 3.4 million broadband subscribers, which is way short of the target of 9 million subscribers set by the broadband policy for 2007.

WiMax is still in its niche stages and its use is limited to enterprises and high-end residential users in urban India, Gartner Principal Research Analyst Naresh Singh said.

In November 2007, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) decided to auction 3G and WiMax spectrum.

As mobile frequencies will not be available in the short term, Gartner does not expect mobile WiMAX rollouts to be available at larger scales before 2009, at the earliest.

''In the near-term, the Indian WiMAX market is not very promising,'' Mr Singh said.

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