Airtel in talks to acquire 4G licenses from Qualcomm

Telecom Lead India: In order to outgun Reliance
Industries in the 4G sphere, Bharti Airtel is planning to buy 4G licenses from
Qualcomm for Rs 6000 crore, which will enable it to launch 4G services in Delhi
and Mumbai, Times of India reported.


Furthermore, the acquisition of 4G licenses will pave the
way for the company to cement its market lead.


The deal is likely to be closed by June and will be accompanied
by technology agreements between Qualcomm and Airtel. Airtel currently holds
licences in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kolkata and Punjab.


Qualcomm has licensed airwaves in four regions –
Mumbai, Delhi, Haryana and Kerala, which it bought in broadband wireless
auction of 2010 for Rs 4,900 crore.


In 2010, Qualcomm was planning to sell its 74 percent
stake in its Indian joint venture to Bharti. But the talks were put on hold
after the telecom department cancelled the US chipmaker’s mobile broadband permits
last year on the grounds that it had not applied for licenses within three
months of the auction.


 Qualcomm had formed separate joint venture
companies for the four service areas, which was a violation of auction
guidelines, as winners could ‘nominate only one company for obtaining a


However, last month, the Telecom Disputes Settlement
& Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) ruled in favor of Qualcomm’s India unit and
the company is expected to receive spectrum in 10 days.


Respite from TDSAT has paved the way for Airtel to start
negotiations in a bid to acquire 4G licenses of Qualcomm.


Qualcomm sold 26 percent to Tulip & GTL
Infrastructure. Qualcomm divested 13 percent each to Tulip
Telecom and GTL Infrastructure shortly after winning the 4G
licenses to ensure it adhered to Indian norms that cap foreign holding in
a telecom company at 74 percent.


its 4G launch in Kolkata, Bharti Airtel has chalked out its 4G rollout
strategy. It will launch 4G services in Bangalore in the next 30 days and
in Maharashtra soon. The country’s first 4G provider has selected
Huawei as the network supplier for the Karnataka circle.

Bharti is also eyeing the 700 MHz band auctions to consolidate its position in
the 4G segment. The 700 MHz band is considered to be thrice as efficient as the
2300 MHz band that was auctioned in 2010.


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