KUALA LUMPUR (WiMAX Day). The Board of YTL e-Solutions Berhad (YTLE) in Malaysia have announced their support for the Global Roaming initiative of WiSOA. YTLE will make an investment in WiSOA through WiMAX Capital Management (WCM), a UK private equity group, and majority-owned subsidiary of YTLE. The investment is intended to help speed the future commercial development of roaming for WiMAX
The WiMAX Spectrum Owners Alliance (WiSOA) launched its Global Roaming initiative this year in an effort to push the roaming agenda for WiMAX and provide an immediate solution for WiMAX network operators that will generate incremental revenue from value-added services to subscribers.
YTLE was awarded 2.3 GHz spectrum in Malaysia earlier this year. The company has begun to deploy a WiMAX network in Malaysia, and a recent press release noted that a key component to the success of WiMAX will be roaming, not just in Malaysia but on a global scale.
Roaming will allow subscribers of a WiMAX service to successfully interconnect with service providers around the world, which underscores the “anywhere, anytime” philosophy of WiMAX. According to YTLE Executive Chairman and Managing Director, Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh Sock Ping, the company believes that roaming will provide a significant value-added service for its customers in Malaysia, and enable them to remain connected to wireless broadband services throughout SE Asia and the world.
Similar to roaming in mobile telephony, GSM only became a real success once roaming had been established. The first GSM roaming agreement was made in 1993, and today more than 2 billion inter-network roaming connections are executed each month, which generates some $60 billion in revenue for mobile operators and constitutes 20% of their profits.
As the technology and market for WiMAX services mature, YTLE believes Global Roaming will become a substantial service offering. Recent research from Infonetics suggest WiMAX roaming is a market segment that could reach as much as US$1.6 billion by 2009.
“We see this as an opportunity to influence the first steps of what is about to erupt into a major global industry. WiMAX is already the global standard for wireless broadband, and for myself, I look forward to the day very soon when I can use my WiMAX broadband to access the Internet anywhere in the world, the same way I use my GSM phone,” said Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh Sock Ping of the roaming initiative
In an effort to ensure a WiMAX subscriber can connect with the best available network, WiSOA plans to enable roaming not just amongst WiMAX networks, but also from WiMAX networks into WiFi, cellular, 2G and 3G networks. This is complex and WiSOA has begun to work with several of the world’s leading companies involved in roaming clearing and settlement to realise this ambitious plan.
WiSOA has also gathered some thirty WiMAX network operators from around the world that will be the first companies to participate in the Global Roaming initiative. WiSOA is also working with some of the leading equipment vendors in the WiMAX ecosystem to ensure compatibility with all existing standards, services and platforms.
While roaming is simply a commercial endeavor that allows networks to share subscribers and revenue, its development impacts the entire WiMAX ecosystem, from network operators to chipset manufacturers and equipment vendors.
WiSOA and its partners intend that the Global Roaming initiative should be an “open” process, and welcomes the participation of other industry stakeholders. In the near future, WiSOA and its partners will unveil further details of its Global Roaming initiative and by the end of 2007, provide that thousands of current WiMAX subscribers will experience for the first time the true power of WiMAX as they connect to the world.