There is a strong rumor of Qualcomm partnering with Airtel to roll-out TD-LTE network in India. Qualcomm has bid for the ongoing BWA spectrum and would need to find an Indian partner if it were to win the bid as Indian laws prohibit any foreign company to hold more than 74% share in any telecom company.
Qualcomm has a good chance of winning the bid as it would do anything to get the spectrum and showcase the TD-LTE technology. Airtel has not been able to get 3G spectrum in almost half the circles and would be keen to leapfrog technology by launching 4G across the country. 3G spectrum can then be used for freeing up the 2G network. Qualcomm on the other hand has no interest in launching the network by itself and is only interested in blocking WiMax from getting further foothold in India. Thus there is a perfect match between Airtel and Qualcomm.
I had mentioned in my earlier post that in a statement, Qualcomm made it clear that it intended to act only as a facilitator: If it wins the spectrum auction, Qualcomm plans to partner with an India-based operator to build a TD-LTE network and then exit the business. Surely, Qualcomm would like to partner with a pan India player and with significant subscriber base. Qualcomm has good relationships with Tata and Reliance but does not view them as potential partners which leaves is it with Airtel as the only choice. Vodafone is a global company and would not like to have a tie-up with Qualcomm.
Please note that this rumor has not been confirmed by either Airtel or Qualcomm.
Mohit is a telecom professional with rich experience over 15 years. His expertise is in the area of strategy and planning and his work experience includes stints with two of Big 5 consulting organizations, a telecom operator and a handset vendor. Mohit can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org