Qualcomm Finalizes Indian Partners for LTE Joint Venture

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Qualcomm has finalized initial shareholders for its LTE (Long Term Evolution) services venture in India, it said on Friday.

Qualcomm will have a 74 percent stake in the venture, while two Indian companies -- Global Holding Corporation and Tulip Telecom -- will hold 13 percent each. The deal still requires government approval, Qualcomm said.

Global Holding is in the shared mobile infrastructure business while Tulip is an enterprise communications service provider. Tulip said in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange that it will be investing about 1.4 billion Indian rupees (US$30 million) for its stake in the joint venture.

Indian government rules limit foreign direct investment in telecommunications service providers to 74 percent.

By inducting Global Holding and Tulip into the joint venture, Qualcomm will be meeting the requirement that the joint venture have an Indian holding of 26 percent of the total equity.

Qualcomm also indicated that it will sell part of its 74 percent share to some operators before it eventually exits the joint venture.

The company said in its statement on Friday that it expects to attract one or more experienced 3G HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) or EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) operators into the venture for construction of an LTE network, in compliance with the Indian government's roll-out requirements for Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum, and then exit the venture.

Qualcomm did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

In an auction of BWA spectrum earlier this year, the Indian government auctioned two blocks of 20MHz unpaired spectrum in the 2.3GHz band in each of the 22 service areas in the country. There were 11 bidders in the auction.

Qualcomm won a total of four slots across four service areas. Among the four slots were one each in Mumbai and Delhi, which are considered as large markets for broadband and mobile services.

Qualcomm said in March that it was bidding in the auction to promote the LTE standard. In line with Indian rules, it will form a joint venture with Indian partners to set up a LTE network, and will exit the venture later, the company said at the time.

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