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Qualcomm Finally Gets An ISP License

After an 18-month delay, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has finally issued an Internet Service Provider (ISP) license to Qualcomm, enabling the company to roll out BWA services (4G) in the country, reports Business Standard. Quoting a senior DoT official who confirmed the licence being issued to Qualcomm, the report said that the spectrum would be allotted to Qualcomm, as soon as the company applies for it. It also added that Qualcomm had confirmed receiving the license.

In June 2010, Qualcomm had won BWA spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana for Rs. 4912.54 crore, with Mumbai being the costliest circle at Rs 2292.95 crore. The company had also brought in India-based Tulip Telecom and Global Holdings as its LTE rollout partners for $28 million and had received Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB)’s nod to invest up to Rs. 796.9 Crore in its Indian Broadband Wireless Access venture.

Qualcomm had applied for an ISP license with four partner companies namely Wireless Broadband Business Services (Delhi), Wireless Broadband Business Services, Wireless Broadband Services (Kerala) and Wireless Broadband Business Services (Haryana). However,DoT had rejected Qualcomm’s ISP license bid in September 2011, stating that Qualcomm’s application arrived in December, after the deadline for inviting the bids had expired and the company had nominated four different ISP companies instead of one, in order to get a Category A ISP license, which did not comply with the NIA rules mentioned in the letter of intent.

Qualcomm had then claimed that the reasons for rejecting its application were baseless and that it had complied with DoT’s application process. The company claimed that its locally incorporated partner companies had sent their bids in August, however DoT had seeked for a clarification from Qualcomm in November, after the 90 day window period expired, to which it had replied in December.

In the following month, Qualcomm made some key management changes and was able to get a stay from the Telecom Dispute Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT), on the Department of Telecom’s decision of rejecting its bid. TDSAT had later ordered DoT to issue the ISP licence and allot spectrum to Qualcomm within a week of paying all the dues of its Indian partner, Tulip Telecom.

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Other BWA players: Earlier this month, it was reported that Bharti Airtel might launch its 4G service on March 20, 2012 in Kolkata, while the details about its rollout plans remained sketchy. In December 2011, Mukesh Ambani owned Reliance Industries (RIL) had also announced plans to offer low cost high-speed broadband services based on a 4G network deployment by the end of 2012. While the company stated that its rollout plans were still in a planning phase, rumors suggested that RIL will be offering tablets at a subsidized price of Rs 3,500 and bundling data plans for as low as Rs 10 per GB along with it. Before that, Augere Wireless had announced in October 2011 that it plans to roll out its LTE services under its ZOOSH brand, across 14 cities in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh this year and had partnered with Ericsson for its 4G/TD- long term evolution plans.

On the other hand, state owned BSNL was looking to surrender its BWA spectrum and had got the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)’s nod in December 2011.

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