Qualcomm Still Silent on India Partners

With some spectrum under its belt, Qualcomm says it will announce its Indian broadband wireless operator partners within a month

June 11, 2010

3 Min Read
Qualcomm Still Silent on India Partners

Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), which has bagged Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum in four circles (service areas), says it will team up with one or more local operators to offer broadband Internet services in India. (See India's BWA Auction Ends in $8.2B Drama.)

The chip giant, which in March stated its intention to build out a TD-Long Term Evolution (LTE) network with local partners and then exit the venture, says it will hook up with 3G spectrum owners in New Delhi and Mumbai -- India's two main metro circles -- and Haryana and Kerala. (See Qualcomm Unveils LTE Plans for India and A Guide to India's Telecom Market.)

Any local partners will need to take a minimum 26 percent stake in Qualcomm's wireless network venture, according to the Indian laws.

At a press conference in New Delhi today, Kanwalinder Singh, president of Qualcomm India and South Asia, said the vendor will "be announcing our partners in about a month's time." He added: "We believe that a chunk of 3G spectrum will be used for voice by the winners and, in this scenario, they would need spectrum to cater to the data requirements. It is here our spectrum will be used."

It's possible that Qualcomm might partner with different players in different circles. The operators that hold 3G spectrum in New Delhi and Mumbai are Reliance Communications Ltd. , Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), Vodafone India , and state-owned Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) .

In Haryana, the 3G spectrum holders are Idea Cellular Ltd. , Tata Teleservices Ltd. , and Vodafone India , while Aircel Ltd. , Idea, and Tata have the 3G spectrum in Kerala. Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) is the state-owned operator in those two circles.

Singh said Qualcomm will perform a live demonstration of TD-LTE before the end of 2010. "There has been speculation in the market that LTE technology is not ready -- this is our way of responding to this speculation," he stated.

Qualcomm isn't the only BWA spectrum-holder that will be rolling out an LTE network. Infotel Broadband Services, which bid 128.4 billion Indian rupees (US$2.74 billion) to bag 2.3GHz slots in all 22 of India's circles, is being acquired by Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL) , which plans to use LTE to become a broadband leader in India. (See RIL Takes Over Infotel.)

As a result it's likely that billions of dollars will be spent rolling out LTE networks in India in the coming years.

Among the systems vendors that will be looking to pitch their wares to Infotel and Qualcomm are Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Nokia Networks , and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763). (See ZTE Unveils TD-LTE Base Stations, NSN Integrates TD-LTE, Anite, Huawei Demo TD-LTE Tests, Ericsson, Datang Team for TD-LTE, Moto Claims TD-LTE First, and AlcaLu Sets TD-LTE Record.)

The critical issue of wireless technology deployment in India, and the associated business models, will be discussed in depth at the Mobile Broadband Summit 2010 one-day events in New Delhi (July 7) and Mumbai (July 9). To find out more, check out the event Website.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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