SOURCE: SOMA Networks, Inc.

February 26, 2009 04:00 ET

BSNL Launches India's First High-speed Wireless Broadband Network in Gujarat

AHMEDABAD, INDIA and SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - February 26, 2009) - Bharat Sanchar Nigam, Ltd (BSNL), India's state-owned and largest telecommunications company, and SOMA Networks, Inc., a leading provider of WiMAX solutions, today announced the commercial launch of "BSNL Wireless Broadband" service in the state of Gujarat. Broadband connectivity means high-speed, always on, Internet access in homes and offices. What is special about this wireless service is that it can reach even those places where there is no wired infrastructure. India has low Internet penetration of around 4.9% (compared with 68% in the US), while broadband penetration is even lower, at less than half a percent. This service will aim to significantly improve India's broadband tele-density.

BSNL's wireless broadband initiative is the country's most significant telecom project, instituted towards realizing the Indian Government's broadband mandate of installing 20 million connections by 2010. Broadband is an enabler for many services and can help reduce health care costs, improve education, and enhance the reach of Government services to the public.

Mr. M. Sahu, Gujarat's Principal Secretary of Industry and Mines, said, "Our Chief Minister has termed the 21st century as the Age of Knowledge, and for it to spread -- to allow a free flow of thoughts and exchange of ideas -- connectivity is important, connectivity that is not limited by wires, and that is why this technology is being heralded by Gujarat. We look at it as an important part of our industrial development infrastructure. We look at it as part of the societal fibre to connect people, to help them work together, and put Gujarat at the forefront of economic development."

Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) is the first enterprise to benefit from this service in Gujarat. GIDC will make this service available to industries housed in their estates, and will also use this service in their own administrative offices.

The Indian Government has also underlined the mandate to provide broadband coverage to all secondary schools, public health care centers and Village Panchayats (Local Rural Bodies) by the end of 2009.

"We are extremely pleased that the people of Gujarat are the first to benefit from this ambitious wireless broadband project," said Mr. Satya Pal, Chief General Manager, BSNL Gujarat Telecom Circle. "BSNL's service is not just for the urban elites, but will connect India's underserved population with the same high-quality broadband experience, but without the wait and without the wires."

Consumers should expect to see a range of interactive services to be introduced by SOMA Networks in the next few months, over BSNL's Wireless Broadband network. These new services will transform lifestyles with online shopping, banking and bill-payment, and new modes of communication using voice and video chats. For the youth segment, there will be services such as social networking, sharing of videos, music and photos, and edutainment, to name a few.

"This commercial launch in Gujarat is a historic milestone in SOMA's operating partnership with BSNL, and a result of SOMA's technology integrated with BSNL's fibre backbone network," said Yatish Pathak, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SOMA Networks. "We are greatly honoured to partner with BSNL, who provided us the opportunity to bring this technology benefit to the people of India. Over the next few weeks this service will be launched in the states of Goa and Andhra Pradesh, to be soon followed by Maharashtra."

BSNL has partnered with SOMA to deploy WiMAX service in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Andhra Pradesh. As a part of this operating partnership, SOMA has invested in the network rollout, and will manage the service on behalf of BSNL. This service uses SOMA's award-winning FlexMAX System to wirelessly deliver broadband to the subscriber through a plug-and-play indoor device that allows seamless upgrades to future services. SOMA's technology requires one-third the time it takes to install other telecom infrastructure, which means it can speed up the country's broadband penetration more rapidly than any other technology available today.

The new BSNL Wireless Broadband service offers a range of service plans based on bandwidth rates, providing speeds from 256 kbps to 2 Mbps. Residential plans include two email addresses and 5 MB of storage. Business plans include up to four email addresses, and 5 MB of storage.

To learn more about SOMA's service offering with BSNL, please call toll free: 1 800 2 33 66 00, or visit:

About SOMA Networks

SOMA Networks, Inc., helps service providers and their subscribers access the world with WiMAX. As a leading provider of Mobile WiMAX products and professional services, SOMA's FlexMAX™ Mobile WiMAX System, SoftAir™ Multimedia Application System, and global professional services provide a complete platform that accelerates service providers' time to market with revenue-generating applications that bring broadband to the home or business. SOMA is a principal member of the WiMAX Forum®, and its FlexMAX Mobile WiMAX System supports the 802.16e-2005 Mobile WiMAX standard. Deployed on five continents, SOMA is headquartered in San Francisco and has offices in Toronto, Ottawa, Delhi, Sao Paulo and Singapore. For more information, visit