India’s Department of Telecoms has reportedly claimed that Qualcomm’s original application for Indian wireless broadband service permits is void, thereby suggesting that the operator could have its licences revoked. Qualcomm would also forfeit the US$1bn+ fee that it paid for them.
According to a senior official from the DoT, operators were required to obtain licences within a three-month period after the wireless broadband airwave (BWA) auctions had taken place. Qualcomm applied for its licences in December 2010, around six months after the auctions had finished.
The operator has been notified that its application has been turned down, with the DoT stating that “[the application] was beyond the validity period for applying and acquiring the relevant licence”.
The CEO of Qualcomm has confirmed that the company’s Rs 4.9bn acquisition of licences covering Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana was motivated by its desire to stymie the spread of WiMAX.
Speaking last year, Paul Jacobs said: “I really believe that [the BWA] spectrum was all headed for WiMAX. Our big bet is on LTE and we wanted to make sure that there was a place for LTE in India. We were concerned that if both of those bands had gone to WiMAX it would have helped to reinvigorate that ecosystem.”
If the permits are annulled, Qualcomm stands to lose its payment; a final decision on this will be reached once the DoT has received a response from the operator.