At the “WiMax For Broadband India Conference” held at the Shangri-La Hotel in Delhi today, the session on operators featured some interesting inputs on user research and services over WiMax:

Sridhar Pai, CEO and Founder of Tonse Telecom outlined a few inputs on user demand for broadband. According to Pai, users want access on the go, the WiMax signal to be uniform in a hotspot, without signal fluctuations, a reliable connection. They want their data to be secure on the move, a single bill for Phone and WiMax, and a single username and password irrespective of which city they’re using the service in. What caught my attention was that according to the research, users are willing to pay as much as Rs. 2000 per month on data connectivity. I guess then it must be a high-end user base used for the research. Pai feels that the broadband landscape will change drastically, and expects a massive increase in the broadband base. He recommended a bundling of the voice and data plan.

Pai also spoke about the paradox in the growth in telecom – how the TRAI has been very pro-active in regulating the Mobile ecosystem, while at the same time, not paying as much attention to the Internet and broadband space – with restrictions governing the broadband business, like in case of IPTV.

Kalyan Pal from Tata Communications suggested that targets on the broadband side have notbeen met because of service issues, and inconsistent speeds. Once the consumer pain-points are addressed, triple play (voice, data and video) will take shape. An area of concern: if more and more application are peer to peer (p2p), like bittorrent, they will need synchronous bandwidth on both uplink and downlink. Current networks are heavy on downlink, and light on uplink.

I asked the panelists about what kind of services one might see, once WiMax is launched: Pal mentioned an interesting application – of having servers delivering advertisements depending on the location. Pai mentioned that the trends they’ve observes is that a surprising number of people are using WiMax for online gaming.

What is Broadband Wireless Access?
One of the speakers mentioned the ambiguity in the definition of Broadband Wireless Access – “If you look at the auction policy today, the term Broadband Wireless Networks has not been defined. The rollout obligations state that you have to cover the 50 percent area of each of the rural districts within a certain timeframe. That’s an impossible task. Cellular services have struggled to do it. You don’t need to cover 50 percent of Rajasthan with the miles and miles of desert.”

Update: Download Pai’s presentation here.