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WiMax tests positive, but roll-out not likely this year



WiMax tests positive, but roll-out not likely this year | Thaiger

PHUKET: Although the recent high-profile testing of WiMax Internet access technology aboard a sailboat off Karon proved successful, the high-speed wireless service is not likely to grace Phuket’s shores until next year, the Gazette has learned.

The WiMax tests were carried out on February 22 by broadband service provider the Benchachinda Group with its affiliate companies United Information Highway Co Ltd (UIH) and BB Broadband Co Ltd.

Benchachinda Group was formerly incorporated as UCOM Co Ltd.

The tests, conducted near Le Meridien Phuket Resort, were just the beginning of a nationwide push to introduce WiMax to Thailand.

The effort is being coordinated by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), which has awarded exclusive rights to 12 companies to provide WiMax coverage, with each company given exclusive rights in certain areas.

The Benchachinda Group has been allocated Phuket as well as the Phi Phi Islands, Koh Samui, Koh Pha-ngan and Koh Tao in Chumphon province.

UIH Product Development Director Passakorn Hongsyok yesterday told the Gazette, “During the tests, we used a PCMCIA card to act as the receiver for a notebook computer. We received the WiMax signal from a WiMax access point set up at Le Meridien. This was connected to the Internet through our own fiber-optic cable network.”

Supporting the “last mile” WiMax technology was UIH’s own fiber-optic network coupled with the nationwide DTAC network that was originally created by UIH, K. Passakorn explained.

The network comprises some 50,000 kilometers of fiber-optic cables spread throughout all 76 provinces. About a decade ago in Phuket, UIH laid a fiber-optic loop that passes through most densely-populated areas on the island.

The February 22 tests successfully connected a laptop computer to the Internet at 8 Mbps as the boat sailed about a kilometer offshore.

Sending the connection signal from the hotel was a one-watt tower, which had a range of up to three kilometers, set up specially for the trial.

Although WiMax has been used to provide Internet connections as far 30 kilometers away without line of sight, to ensure continuous coverage to an area such as Patong would likely require about four towers, K. Passakorn explained

“We would probably use 20W towers, but to determine how they would work in reality on Phuket would require testing,” he said.

“We are looking at providing blanket coverage. Once we are permitted to provide WiMax service in Phuket, we will install signal-transmission antennas to cover the whole island, ” he added.

The tower used in the trial was provided by Motorola, which will provide hardware including antennas, modems and PCMCIA cards that would be used by Benchachinda to deliver the service, if approved.

Like the other 11 companies seeking NTC approval to provide WiMax service, Benchachinda must complete its trials by the end of April.

However, it is still very early and the criteria for gaining NTC approval is still not clear, K. Passakorn explained.

In addition to trial results, Benchchinda will have to submit to the NTC a general business plan outlining what services would be offered – and at what prices.

“We’re looking at rolling out service for corporate users. We would rather not sell direct to consumers – we would prefer to use an independent marketing intermediary for that,” K. Passakorn explained.

“We will need end-user feedback before we even start to develop consumer packages,” he said.

WiMax connection packages, once available, will be provided through the group’s marketing arm, BB Broadband Co Ltd, better known as BeeNet.


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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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