18 Sep 2008

A new day, a new WiMAX deployment announcement... oh, and another one...

Here at Informa Telecoms & Media, we are certainly gaining from the continued interest in the WiMAX. Our partnership with the WiMAX Forum to deliver the IEEE 802.16 industry's de facto global meeting place in Amsterdam has been very successful. The team responsible have also created a roadshow of region-specific WiMAX events in Latin America, Asia, and another coming up to cover the hotly-tipped Russia/CIS market. The speaker line-up and agenda for the latter, which takes place in Moscow next month, looks very good value. I hope to travel out there to meet executives from the likes of Enforta, Trivon, Synterra, Comstar and Golden Telecom.

This will be useful because shortly I am scheduled to initiate the programme of research and speaker acquisition leading to the development of the Com World Series team's annual Eurasia region conference and exhibition in Turkey. The relevance of getting one more chance to make further connections in Russia is that the CIS markets from which our Eurasia event gathers delegates are a natural place for Moscow-headquartered telcos to grown their footprints. In mobility, MTS and Vimpelcom have been particularly active in terms of snapping up existing MNOs in these markets, or winning new licences and building new operators from scratch. Perhaps WiMAX-deploying broadband service providers from the Russian Federation will follow this lead. That's a question I'll be keen to ask if I do make the trip to the WiMAX event in Moscow next month.

When we needed to rebrand our former GSM>3G Central Asia conference two years ago, 'Eurasia' was the best term we could find to cover a wide region which takes in Turkey itself, the area around the Caspian Sea and the former Soviet states of Central Asia. Happily, our preferred term maps quite neatly onto how this huge area is described by one of the telcos most active in that territory. TeliaSonera has a dedicated Eurasia Business Area, headed up by Tero Kivisaari. TeliaSonera are joint owners (with Turkcell) of Fintur Holdings, which in turn owns a number of mobile operators in CIS markets - Azercell (Azerbaijan), K'Cell (Kazakhstan), Moldcell (Moldova) and Geocell (Georgia). Two further MNOs are owned directly by TeliaSonera but managed by the Fintur JV with Turkcell. These are Ucell (Uzbekistan) and Indigo-Somoncom of Tajikistan.

I met Fintur's then-newly appointed CMO Gary Koeb at Eurasia Com 2008 back in April and look forward hopefully to involving the various companies under the Fintur umbrella more closely in 2009 than in previous iterations of the conference.

There has been evidence of some interest inWiMAX in the Eurasia region. Planned and actual deployments include:

The list is growing. This week, Alcatel-Lucent announced a deal to supply a mobile WiMAX network to Delta Telecom of Azerbaijan. I expect discussions around the business case for WiMAX deployment in these markets (for MNOs, for start-ups, for the incumbent state-owned wireline carriers) to form a pretty significant component of the agenda at our next Eurasia Com conference. So these are the kinds of regional pioneers we will be looking to involve. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, MNO Mobily of Saudi Arabia recently announced the launch of WiMAX services in four cities, which is apparently the first stage of a plan to cover the entire Kingdom in broadband wireless. This story was picked up by our Global Mobile Daily service on 3rd September.

WiMAX announcements seem to be popping up all over the regions we cover via the Com World Series. Expect to see that reflected at the shows.