New Delhi: India has agreed to grant an Internet service licence to Qualcomm Inc., telecom secretary R. Chandrashekhar said on Tuesday, clearing the way for the US chip maker to launch broadband services in the country after its application for the licence was rejected initially.
Qualcomm last year paid about $1 billion (Rs 4,910 crore) for wireless spectrum it won in a state auction in four of India’s 22 telecom zones. The company needs to get the so-called Internet service provider’s licence to launch broadband services.
The ministry had earlier cited Qualcomm missing the deadline for applying for the Internet service providers’ licence as one of the reasons for rejecting the application. The ministry had also said Qualcomm applied for four separate licences, whereas it should have applied for just one.
Qualcomm confirmed later on Tuesday that it had received a letter from the telecom ministry, offering to grant the company a licence covering all the four zones.
The company had previously said it fully complied with the application process and will work with the Indian authorities to resolve the matter.
It last year sold a total 26% stake in its India broadband venture to Indian firms Global Holdings and Tulip Telecom to comply with Indian rules, which allow a maximum 74% foreign holding in local telecom companies.
Qualcomm, which is pushing for the deployment of LTE (long-term evolution) broadband technology, has said it is looking for more operator partners in the Indian venture and plans to eventually exit the business.
Other firms who have wireless broadband spectrum in select zones include top telecom firm Bharti Airtel Ltd, smaller carrier Aircel, and privately held Augere and Tikona.
A unit of Reliance Industries Ltd, India’s most valuable firm, has wireless broadband spectrum in all 22 zones of the country.
None of the broadband spectrum winners have launched services yet.