Qualcomm nears Indian LTE launch and exit - Mobile World Live

Qualcomm nears Indian LTE launch and exit

13 MAR 2012

Qualcomm says it is close to finalising a deal with an Indian operator, which could see it launch TD-LTE services in the country before year-end. The US chip giant was the surprising winning bidder for a slot of so-called Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum during Indian auctions last year – but needs a local operator to help roll-out services. Speaking to The Hindu Business Line, Kanwalinder Singh (pictured), Qualcomm’s president of India and South Asia, said: “We had earlier announced a four-step strategy for our broadband venture – to invest in spectrum, accelerate the ecosystem, to introduce one or more operators as partners and eventually exit. We are at the third step and we are in talks with operators.” Singh did not reveal which operators the chip giant was talking to, but previous reports have suggested that market-leader Bharti Airtel could be a contender. “The timing of introducing a partner is bound because we are looking at launching the networks by the end of 2011 or first half year of 2012,” he continued. “The new partner will make the investments for rolling out services in the circles. Once the partner operator takes control of the network we will exit.”

Qualcomm owns 74 percent of the company it set up to acquire the spectrum with the remaining shareholding owned by local partners Global Holdings and Tulip Telecom. Qualcomm’s stake is valued at about US$1.1 billion, according to previous reports. The joint venture was awarded one slot of 20MHz TD BWA spectrum in the 2.3GHz band covering the key telecom circles of Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala, spending more than US$1 billion during the auction process. While the BWA spectrum was initially positioned for WiMAX use, Qualcomm intends to use it to roll-out rival TD-LTE technology. According to Singh, LTE-based network equipment is already available and devices will be launched soon: “On the devices side we expect to go commercial with our multimode chipsets within the next couple of months and then devices will start rolling out from late 2011 or early 2012. Dongles will come first.”

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