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Qualcomm to bid in Indian wireless auction

18 марта 2010

Qualcomm, the US mobile phone chipmaker, plans to bid in India’s upcoming wireless spectrum auction and, if successful, will help build a wireless broadband network with an Indian partner, based on 4G technology.

The Indian government plans to offer up to four 3G licences and two ‘Broadband Wireless Access’ licences in an auction on April 9 that could raise as much as $8bn. The deployment of high-speed wireless data networks based on 4G standards could help bridge a broadening digital divide in India and provide internet access to rural communities that lack fibre-based fixed-line infrastructure.

India is the world’s fastest growing wireless market but with 15 national operators it is also one of the most competitive, at least for wireless voice telephony. However Qualcomm, which uses spectrum it acquired in the US to provide mobile TV services to US network operators, indicated that it did not plan to be a long-term network operator in India.

Rather, it said if it was successful in the auction, it would seek an Indian partner or partners to construct the 4G network based on TD-LTE, a 4G standard that has also been adopted in China, and then would plan to exit the venture.

“Qualcomm has a history of participating in spectrum auctions to expedite the commercialisation of new wireless technologies,” the company said. “By participating in India’s BWA spectrum auction, Qualcomm can foster the accelerated deployment of TD-LTE.”

Most of the bids in the upcoming auction are expected to be for the 3G licences, but Qualcomm will bid for the BWA spectrum in the 2.3Ghz band in order to build a network based on the TD-LTE (Time Division – Long-term Evolution) technology which it has helped develop.

The US company noted that a 4G network based on TD-LTE technology would also be able to carry mobile voice and slower data traffic based on existing technology standards creating economies of sale and enabling “a broad choice of wireless broadband devices at affordable price points for Indian customers.”

Potential bidders in the upcoming auction have until Friday to register their interest. Qualcomm is the first company to formally apply to bid for the BWS spectrum which has a reserve price of R17.5bn ($385m) although analysts expect it to attract significantly higher bids. Google, the internet search and advertising giant, has been mentioned as another potential bidder for the BWA licences.

The 3G licences are expected to fetch between $1bn and $1.5bn each. Britain’s Vodafone group and Telenor, which both have Indian ventures operating 2G mobile services, have said they would bid for 3G spectrum. AT&T, the second largest US-based mobile operator has also been trying to establish a foothold in the Indian market.

Источник: Financial Times

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