Bharti Airtel may buy Qualcomm's BWA biz
Bharti Airtel is likely to buy yet-to-be-launched Indian wireless broadband business of Qualcomm, industry sources said. The US-based chip maker is set to be in discussions with the country's largest telecom operator to sell its BWA licences in all four circles, sources told ET NOW.
The valuation of the deal is likely to be around $1.2-1.3 billion, with a premium of 25-30%. Qualcomm has broadband wireless licences in four circles of Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala and Haryana and had paid $1.05 billion for these permits and airwaves.
"Qualcomm is not expecting much of a premium on these licences. It expects only a commitment from the operator that it will use its LTE TDD technology ," an industry source added.
ET Now had earlier reported that along with Bharti Airtel, Aircel was also in talks with Qualcomm to buy its wireless broadband business. Earlier, Bharti Airtel had shown interest for Delhi and Haryana, while Aircel had shown interest for Mumbai and Kerala circles. But ET NOW learns that Aircel, a unit of Malaysia's Maxis Communications has walked out of the deal because of various issues.
Qualcomm refused to confirm that it was selling to Bharti Airtel, but in an email statement said: "Qualcomm has publicly stated that it will work with 3G operators to develop the 3G+LTE ecosystem, commercially deploy LTE TDD in the broadband wireless spectrum, and then exit its India venture. Consistent with those goals, discussions with 3G operators in India on LTE TDD commercialisation and commercial discussions related to Qualcomm's broadband spectrum are indeed ongoing. These discussions are however confidential and Qualcomm cannot comment on speculation regarding specifics."
When contacted, the Bharti Airtel spokesperson said: "As per company policy, we do not comment on speculation."
Qualcomm is best known for pioneering the Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology, which is used by several mobile phone companies, including Reliance Communications , Tata Teleservices and Sistema-Shyam in India.
The San Diego-based company had earlier told Indian telecom companies that the buyer of its broadband permits will have to give an undertaking to use these airwaves only to offer services on the upcoming Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology.
Qualcomm's upcoming TD-LTE technology directly competes with Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WiMAX), a platform that is being pushed by global giants such as Intel and Google.
The American chip maker has a history of participating in spectrum auctions to popularise and expedite the commercialisation of new technologies, and has successfully bid for airwaves in both the US and the UK.
Qualcomm India has Global Holding and Tulip Telecom as its India partners, each holding about 13% stake in the company. Both companies will also sell their stake, if Bharti Airtel is successful in buying the BWA licences of Qualcomm India.
Source : ET