Will EvDO let WiMAX claim the Pakistani market ?

EvDO (Evolution Data Optimized) is a 3G technology and an evolution of 2G CDMA; which can effectively be described as ‘Mobile Broadband’. The technology basically utilizes the cellular channels of the CDMA network to provide broadband internet.

WiMAX on the other hand is falsely (in Pakistan) regarded as a 4G technology. The reason: Of the two standards of WiMAX – FIXED and MOBILE, the former is deployed in Pakistan. Whereas the xG term describes generations of  ‘Mobile Networks’. One on his own can validate this by experiencing several connection-resets when moving around in the city with a laptop and a WiMAX connection. EvDO on the other hand will stay connected. (Note that although WiMAX is not mobile, but it certainly is Portable – works everywhere but not on-the-move)

In Pakistan, 3G might be perceiving the nearly-4G moving into its territory at present. But the question is: ‘How deep can it intrude?’.

Although, both EvDO and WiMAX can rightly be called broadband; the latest revised version of CDMA EvDO , ‘Rev. A’ delivers peak download speed of 3.1Mbps with 1.8 Mbps uplink. WiMAX on the other hands can deliver a whooping peak of 5Mbps downlink with 2.4Mbps uplink under ideal conditions. WiMAX operators however do not offer these peak rates. First of all because even the 3.1Mbps link sounds more than enough for an average Pakistani user. Secondly because of the technical (capacity) issues as explained later on.

As far as number of cell sites is concerned, the number of users served by a single WiMAX Base Station (WBS) defines the data rate offered to each user. For instance, if a WBS has total throughput of 70Mbps and 35 users are camped onto it, each will be served with a 2Mbps link (provided that some lower limit such as 512K or 1M is not enforced). In a situation of users increasing beyond prediction, the data rate will decrease. Increase in number of subscribers will ultimately force the WiMAX operator to install new sites, or otherwise the promised quality of service will tarnish.  EvDO on the other hand follows a different scenario and number of users swelling beyond prediction will mean the new campers to be deprived of service rather than stealing others’ space.

Moving back to Pakistan, the mobility doesn’t matters much to everybody other than a few on-the-move businessmen, mobile work teams, emergency response teams and mobile fleet vehicles if any; making a maximum 5% of the total wireless broadband users.

Capacity issues are operators’ headache, but means a lot to service provisions. Because of the reasons explained earlier, WiMAX towers are required to be installed at every 1-mile in mild, and sometimes down to a quarter mile in dense urban environments. However both the technologies fit in for rural settings with a maximum airlink range of 10 miles and 20 miles respectively. In this case a single base station of either technology can cover a couple of nearby lying habitations. CDMA operators will however enjoy the infrastructure already deployed for WLL phone service.

Lastly, but most significantly… service cost of an equivalent EvDO package is quite greater than its counterpart.  Although the USB devices costs almost the same, CPE however costs much less and is available with WiMAX only.  The only disadvantage… CPEs are not pocket-size, and require AC power.

Summarizing the situation; yes, it seems that WiMAX will knock EvDO out in urban environment. EvDO will however rule the rural and remote areas, since the expected low traffic needs can be met by CDMAs’ existing infra. Moreover, the on-the-go and nationally roaming businesses’ choice will still not be WiMAX.

One thing holds great importance to be noticed here. The only active 3G networks (EvDO – By PTCL and Worldcall under the brand names ‘EVO Wireless’ and ‘Worldcall Wireless Broadband’ respectively) in the country are the evolutions of 2G CDMA networks. CDMA networks in Pakistan have never enjoyed the popularity GSM had. Had these 3G networks been the GSM-evolutions (HSDPA/UMTS), the face of market would have been completely different.


  • Hidden Eyes

    The Pocket size CPEs did showed up after Wi-Tribe launch.. We have seen USB dongles around..

    On-the-move Wimax CPE works good when you are driving at 60KM/H…

    EVDO spectrum is too narrow.. The capacity of adjusting users is low. If EVDO gets the spectrum raised , then it will be a huge setback for Wimax operators.. And lets not forget the EVDO revolution ‘B’ as it has upto 9Mbps download speed..So, the war is there.. What matters most is the quality of the service…

    • Saad Chdhry

      Yes. U r rite abt the spectrum issues with cdma. And thats what C D M A is meant for.

      Abt the REVISION .B, it is not yet implemented anywhere. But future mite be predicted with it.

      Have u experienced this 60kph ? Ive seen online forums explain the 50-60kph speed. They are actually referring to an IEEE802.16e based system. We, here in pak hav IEEE802.16d based systems (Fixed wimax). Handovers are not defined from the very begining.

      But Ive also heard that since the service is packet based, one might not preceive the connection reset when moving at fairly low speeds.

      However i did, even when moving the CPE aroung on my table between 2 windows. I mite be swapping b/w 2 sectors. :s

      • Hidden Eyes

        MY fried actually tried 60kph with a USB Dongle… It was fair enuf as per his recommendations..

  • Saleem Khan

    EVDO of PTCL is not giving high speed bandwidth in whole country. It is like a fraud that they charge every body equally but except metro cities with selected areas, they yet not started high speed internet service. WiMax atleast provides equal speed for all across the country.

    Secondly who is saying WiMAX is 4G? Right now 3.5G is implementing in the world. WiMAX technology have tough competition with UMTS but as GSM companies prefer UMTS 3G thats why WiMAX need new hardware to be preinstall in Mobiles and Laptops. For that they have agreements with Intel also. But I am hearing now a days that UMTS is decreasing cost due to wide area implementations so may be Intel stop its project of making small chip for WiMAX.

    No doubt WiMax in increasing day by day due to its very cheap license for Spectrum allocation and low cost of infrastructure. It right now lacks mobility but we will find inshAllah soon that also, like WiFi.

  • Shak

    I could’nt read the article beyond first few paras due to the big factual errors it contains!

    First of all, it is true that wimax comes in two standards at the moment: Fixed (802.16d) and Mobile (802.16e) – but it is not true that the former is being deployed in Pakistan, as stated in the article. All network operators (Wateen, Mobilink, Witribe, Augere) are deploying Mobile Wimax – with restricted mobility due to PTA’s policy. It means the equipment supports mobility and handovers can be turned on after PTA’s go-ahead.

    Secondly, Wimax is indeed a 4G technology – but in mobility restricted scenarios, it is mainly regarded as 3.5G. The other 4G technology on the horizon is LTE – but it is still atleast a couple of years before it is available commercially. We need to see how Wimax catches up on mobility in this time-frame.

    Thirdly, it is incorrect to state that wimax eats up other users’ download capacity. It supports a variety of QoS (Quality of Service) levels, and it ensures service as per the authorized QoS. User’s capacity will be eaten up only if it is on the lowest QoS level.

    Could’nt read the article further than that :)

  • Adnan

    wimax networks deployed in Pakistan are based on 802.16e and soft handoff supports upto 80kph. i personally tested soft handoff with wateen wimax at the time of installation of wimax cell sites in karachi.

  • Since it seems that some of the tech Wimax guys are posting here, I had a question. If I buy one of the laptops currently being sold overseas with a Wimax chip installed in it, will Wateen or any other Wimax provider allow it to be connected to their network?

    I want to know what the current policy of the Wimax operators is regarding 3rd party Wimax devices to be connected to their networks.

  • kiramatullah

    what will the 3G for ufone. mobilink and Zong