Qualcomm launches Indian LTE venture

US vendor Qualcomm is to build and operate an LTE wireless broadband network in India in a three-way joint venture with two local players – infrastructure company Global Holdings Corporation and data services provider Tulip Telecom.

Qualcomm’s broadband unit recently won a licence to offer wireless broadband access in four regions of the country, including potentially lucrative Mumbai and Delhi, at India’s broadband wireless access auction. It is believed to have offered around $1 billion for the spectrum.

In accordance with Indian Foreign Direct Investment regulations, which limit a foreign company’s stake in such a venture to 74%, Qualcomm has sold each of its Indian partners a 13% share of the venture for a reported $58 million.

“Our objective was to secure initial shareholders who are operator neutral, yet bring strong telecoms and broadband experience,” said Kanwalinder Singh, president of Qualcomm India and south Asia. “We will facilitate accelerated deployment of LTE in concert with 3G HSPA and Ev-Do networks, which protects and enhances investments made by Indian operators in securing 3G and broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum.”

Global Holdings Corporation subsidiary GTL Infra has already agreed to merge its telecoms tower business with that of Reliance Communications, potentially providing Qualcomm with access to crucial infrastructure to complement its LTE strategy.

Berge Ayvazian, senior consultant and director of 4G consulting at Pyramid Research, expects Qualcomm to do a deal with Reliance Communications, and also with its sister company Reliance Industries which through its takeover of Infotel Broadband, now has access to all 22 divisions of India’s wireless broadband spectrum. “Reliance Industries is likely to announce plans to use many of these towers to build out its BWA network,” he said. “Reliance may also agree to pay GTL to extend reach of its tower network into rural areas as the anchor tenant.”