Qualcomm to Bid in India’s Broadband Wireless Auction

Qualcomm said on Wednesday that it is has filed an application to bid in India's auction for licenses for broadband wireless access (BWA) in the 2.3 GHz band, to promote the TD-LTE (Time Division Long Term Evolution) standard.

A winning bid would turn Qualcomm into a joint venture partner in an Indian mobile network, at least for a while. The U.S. chip maker intends to find an Indian partner if it succeeds in the auction, as per telecommunications rules in India, it said. Qualcomm's aim is to build a network based on China's TD-LTE standard with its Indian partner, then exit the joint venture.

India's auction of 3G spectrum is now scheduled for April 9, with the auction for BWA licenses scheduled to be held two days after the completion of the auction of 3G licenses. The auctions were initially scheduled for January last year but were postponed thrice.

The Indian government plans to auction two blocks of 20MHz unpaired spectrum in each of the 22 service areas in the country. A third block has been reserved in all the service areas for two government-owned companies.

A Qualcomm spokeswoman declined to comment on the number of service areas for which the company would be bidding.

In India's unpaired 2.3 GHz spectrum band, TD-LTE is the technology best suited to complement 3G deployments, and address India's rapidly growing demand for high bandwidth broadband services, Qualcomm said.

Using multimode devices that support TD-LTE as well as 3G and 2G technologies, TD-LTE networks will be able to offer a broad choice of affordable wireless broadband devices for Indian consumers, the company added.

Indian rules allow foreign companies to bid in both the 3G and BWA auction, provided they subsequently offer services through joint ventures in which the foreign company holds a maximum of 74 percent of the equity in the joint venture.

TD-LTE is a 4G mobile broadband standard developed by China to complement its home-grown TD-SCDMA (Time-Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access) technology. China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile phone service provider by subscribers, is the only major company using TD-SCDMA technology today.

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