India’s Department of Telecoms has given Qualcomm permission to divest its remaining stake in 2.3 GHz spectrum to the local operator Bharti Airtel.
Qualcomm paid $1.045 billion in the 2010 broadband auctions to obtain 20 MHz in the 2.3 GHz band in four major service areas of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana.
Qualcomm brought in two Indian partners to maintain the mandatory cap of foreign investment not exceeding 74% and later sold the entire stake in the company to Bharti Airtel, India’s top mobile phone company.
Qualcomm, in an email statement told the Economic Times “Qualcomm has publicly stated that it will work with 3G operators to develop the 3G+LTE ecosystem, commercially deploy LTE TDD in the BWA spectrum, and then exit its India LTE Venture.
With the permission from the Indian regulator, Department of Telecommunications, Bharti Airtel can now have full ownership of the holding company.
Airtel now holds Qualcomm’s 4G spectrum in the four circles of Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana apart from the circles of Punjab, Maharashtra, Kolkata and Karnataka where Airtel had previously bought from the auctions.
Bharti Telecom, which operates in 20 countries, owns 44 per cent, of Bharti Airtel. Airtel is the world’s second largest mobile telecommunications company by subscribers, with over 275 million subscribers across 20 countries as of July 2013.
Only nine million of India’s 1 billion people have access to broadband. India’s Department of Telecoms hopes the country will have 100 million by 2014. World-wide, mobile devices with integrated wireless broadband are expected to top 2 billion by 2014, according to research firm In-Stat.
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