Qualcomm to lose $1bn and India licences

Qualcomm stands to lose over $1bn and its wireless broadband service permits in India, after a spokesperson for the Department of Telecoms (DoT) said that the company’s application for licences was invalid.

A senior official from India’s DoT has said that the company did not apply for and acquire licences within three months of the wireless broadband airwaves (BWA) auction. Although the auctions ended in June 2010, Qualcomm did not apply for permits until December.

The DoT concluded that “this was beyond the validity period for applying and acquiring the relevant licence”, and the official added that Qualcomm was informed about the application rejection over the weekend.

Qualcomm shelled out over $1bn (Rs 4.9bn) for permits in Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala in the June 2010 auction and the cancellation of permits could result in Qualcomm forfeiting the entire fee that it had paid. However, a final decision on the amount will be made after the DoT has evaluated the company’s response.

Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs admitted last year that the firm’s spectrum purchase was a deliberate bid to block the progress of WiMAX technology in India, in favour of LTE.

“I really believe that [the BWA] spectrum was all headed for WiMAX,” he said at the time. “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.”

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