Many GSM industry supporters have looked at WiMAX as a competitor – though others disagree and call attention to its complementary uses as I’ve covered before in the post Why WiMAX?. In Pakistan Wateen is an interesting case because it wants to have a two prong strategy and cover all its bases. However in India there’s some resistance to WiMAX which gives an idea of the uphill battle WiMAX is facing.

Here’s a (story) which tells about the internal struggles in India about WiMAX standards. However the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the body representing all GSM operators, has cited compatibility / interference issues and wants more time before agreeing to the proposed standards.

The global WiMax Forum has sought the Indian government’s support in its endeavour towards getting the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to include WiMax as part of International Mobile Communications – 2000 (IMT-2000) standards.

The forum has asked the Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Wireless and Planning Wing to support its cause in the upcoming ITU meet in Kyoto, Japan. Indian cellular operators have, however, opposed the move and said that the DoT must not support the forum’s proposal until further details such as compatibility and interference issues with regard to WiMax are available.

IMT-2000 is the global standard for third generation (3G) wireless communications as defined by the International Telecommunication Union. It has defined five standards which are followed globally for 3G services. In January 2007, a proposed sixth standard (WiMax) was submitted into ITU by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and supported by the WiMax Forum.

Despite opposition from many global telecom and network majors, it is anticipated that WiMax will be approved as an IMT-2000 technology by 2007-end. The forum has been pushing for the inclusion of WiMax services under the IMT-2000 and has said that this would ‘offer significant benefits’ to the mobile community by assuring the global delivery of Wireless Broadband Internet services at the lowest cost.

“There is a solid basis therefore, to support the argument that mobile WiMax should be included within the IMT family of radio interface technologies. Embracing this approach will ensure that operators have access to the wireless technologies necessary to meet their long-term capacity and business plan requirements,” the global WiMax Forum said.

Another reason cited by the Forum for inclusion of WiMax in the IMT-2000 family is that operators in developing countries are also interested in deploying broadband solutions based upon mobile WiMax. The Forum has added that the move will offer operators, especially in developing countries, an additional migration path to consider as they strive to add network capabilities to support a larger suite of value-added broadband services.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the body representing all GSM operators has told the DoT that “before any such proposal for the inclusion of WiMAX as a member of IMT-2000 family can be taken up, it is imperative that the compatibility/interference issues are extensively studied…”

In fact, COAI has also submitted a detailed 10-point technical analysis on why the DoT must wait before supporting the WiMAX forum’s proposal. The COAI has also accused the Forum of not following the ITU established process and providing the necessary details to conduct studies.

“In the absence of specific details and values on important technological parameters, it will not be possible to conduct compatibility and interference studies necessary for equipment and handset designs by international standardisation organisations and vendors,” the COAI added.