The long-rumoured deal between Qualcomm and Bharti Airtel is reportedly close to a conclusion. Industry observers have suggested for some time now that the Indian market leader may be looking to acquire 4G spectrum from Qualcomm.
The US firm set up a joint venture two years ago with local partners to acquire 4G Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licences; sources reporting to Bloomberg have stated that Bharti intends to purchase this asset for INR50 billion (US$928 million).
Bharti reportedly intends to pay for the holding in instalments - which would allow Qualcomm to retain its 51% stake in the firm for at least a further two years – and its first acquisition will be the 26% holding of Tulip Telecom and Global Holding Corp.
Bharti currently holds BWA spectrum in four of India’s 22 telecom circles, but is seeking to acquire Qualcomm’s licences for the crucial Delhi, Haryana, Kerala and Mumbai circles. Qualcomm purchased 20MHz of TDD BWA spectrum in the 2.3GHz band two years ago for over US1 billion.
Bharti launched India’s first commercial 4G services in April in Kolkata, using TD-LTE technology.