The surging demand for access to broadband over the wireless medium is gaining heat in India like never before and this has given rise to many new players entering the field with their technological solutions. One such player, Ruckus Wireless has introduced an end-to-end WBA solution as an alternative to WiMAX deployments in urban areas. TelecomTiger catches up with Sudarshan Boosupalli, Country Head, Ruckus Wireless to know more.
Q1) What makes you venture into a new domain for you, i.e. the wireless broadband access space?
Ans: There are two factors that have led us into this space. It''s important to understand the progression of the technology, specially making Wi-Fi reliable. When Ruckus Wireless went into business in 2004 it focused exclusively on delivering wireless IPTV, and it has been extremely successful in this market. Having conquered that challenge, the company began implementing its same reliable Wi-Fi technology, now known as "Smart Wi-Fi" in the enterprise environment. Its ability to enhance Wi-Fi by focusing the radio beam and having it avoid interference quickly garnered Ruckus a reputation as a technology leader. The natural progression of delivering Wi-Fi connectivity to the enterprise is to deliver it to the campus enterprise, meaning outdoor Wi-Fi access. Ruckus Wireless is the first company to deliver dual-band 802.11n fully-meshable outdoor APs. This led to deployments in metro areas for hot spots and 3G offload. The Smart Wi-FI technology provides benefits outdoor that differentiates Ruckus in this application. When considering a campus, neighborhood or city deployment long distance backhaul is another needed capability, which Ruckus has added to its portfolio. The resulting end to end solution, including the "home wireless modem" CPE enables a tremendous opportunity to deliver DSL-like services wirelessly to developing markets.
Q2) You may end up competing with broadband services offered over WiMAX or 3G which have the ability of being delivered directly into the end-user terminal. How do you view this situation?
Ans: Where there is an existing infrastructure, be it WiMAX (which companies are building, not have built), 3G or copper, there is no competition per se. Ruckus Wireless is not targeting those markets although the Ruckus WBA solution can be used for infill need. It is primarily targeted at emerging markets where the cost of building a WiMAX system, would for example, cost around $495,000 per square kilometer of urban space to service. The cost of the Ruckus WBA Solution, providing equal coverage, costs about $95,000. The ROI would take 6-12 months where as WiMAX ROI would be 3-5 years. Separately, we fully expect to see Wi-Fi as a complementary infrastructure to WiMAX for data offload.
Q3) There are many players who are already present in this space. What will be your strategy to establish your business in wake of this?
Ans: There may be many players in this space, in terms of different technologies aimed at piece parts of a wireless broadband access solution, but outside of Ruckus, no company offers an end-to-end solution, let alone a fully managed one. Ruckus is delivering a point to point backhaul product, fully meshable outdoor 802.11n APs (5GHz & 2.4GHz can be configured as desired for mesh and customer access) and CPE devices to ensure complete connectivity throughout a building. On top of that, the solution is fully managed from the backhaul equipment to each and every end user client and all parts in-between.
Q4) Do you feel you can face competition from in-building solution providers particularly from femtocell or picocell based technology providers?
Ans: Femtocells were designed to extend the range of cellular networks indoors where signal coverage can be a problem using the broadband connection Wi-Fi is used primarily for broadband data access using computers and other Wi-Fi-enabled handheld devices. We believe that eventually these products will be combined in certain applications. They will peacefully co-exist until dual-mode (Wi-Fi/GSM) phones that reliably support voice over Wi-Fi and seamless roaming between Wi-Fi and GSM network obviate the need for femto.
Q5) How big (in terms of revenues) do you feel this market is in India?
Ans: India represents one of the biggest market opportunities for Wi-Fi in Asia and perhaps throughout the world. The market for enterprise wireless alone in Asia Pacific is projected exceed US $495 million by 2012, according to Gartner. In addition, the broadband wireless access market in Asia Pacific is expected to reach nearly US $250 million by 2012. India will realize a large share of this revenue fueled by need to solve the problems of low broadband penetration and sparse fixed line access. This makes Wi-Fi the most economical and viable option for providing broadband access throughout India.
In 2008, Ruckus Wireless realized worldwide revenues of US $32.7 million. In our second quarter of 2009, India represented 25 percent of our revenue. India continues to outperform other markets around the world due to pent up demand for mobile wireless access across nearly all vertical markets.
Q6) What are your business plans for this product in India?
Ans: Our plans are to continue to help the current telecom providers within India with whom we have strategic relationships to build and scale their wireless broadband infrastructures throughout India. Our business plans include offering additional products and services to these customer that will enable them to grow their service revenue and expand their networks.