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Augere Wireless Might Exit India, Sell 4G Spectrum; Other 4G Players

Augere Wireless, which had won 20Mhz of spectrum in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India’s Broadband Wireless Auction last year, and had plans to roll out commercial LTE services under its under its ZOOSH brand, across 14 cities in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, is looking to sell its 4G spectrum, and exit from the Indian market, reports The Economic Times.

According to the report, the main reason for the company’s decision is its inability to raise fresh funding from domestic and international investors following regulatory uncertainty over the telecom sector, after the Supreme Court’s decision cancelling 2G licences and the TRAI recommendations on fresh auctions and refarming of spectrum.

Augere Wireless CEO Lars Henrick Stork, told ET that the company had halted all operational activities and had asked employees to go on leave as it was reassessing its plans for the Indian market and will take 4-6 weeks to reconsider its India plans. However, he did not comment on whether the company was in talks with other players for selling its 4G licence.

Augere had received an approval from India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) for Foreign Direct Investment worth Rs 54 crore in October 2011, and had announced a partnership with Ericsson for its 4G/TD- long term evolution (TD-LTE). Augere paid Rs 124.66 crore for spectrum in that one circle in the BWA auction. The initial roll out of its 4G service was likely to take place by second quarter of 2012 while the company was expecting a complete roll out by 2013. However, the rollout has been put on hold, according to Stork. Investors in the company include Harbinger Capital, France Telecom, New Silk Route and Vedanta Opportunity Fund as well as its founder, Sanjiv Ahuja, former CEO of Orange.

Other 4G Players

Out of all the auction winners, only Airtel has commercially launched 4G services in Kolkata and Bengaluru.  RIL hasn’t revealed its 4G service rollout strategy yet, considering that it’s been almost close to two years that the company acquired pan-India BWA spectrum through the acquisition of Infotel Broadband, which had won BWA spectrum in all 22 circles in the country for Rs 12,847.77 crore during the 2010 BWA auctions. There’s speculative reports that HFCL might do the ground work for the roll-out but no official confirmation.

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Qualcomm, another player, which had won BWA spectrum in four circles including Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana for Rs. 4912.54,  crore had hit a roadblock when its ISP license was rejected by DoT. It was finally allotted spectrum , earlier this month. There are reports that the company is in talks to sell its 4G license and spectrum to Bharti Airtel.

Tikona Digital won spectrum only in 5 circles: Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West), Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh for Rs. 1058.2 Crore. However, we haven’t heard from the company about its 4G plans.

Aircel  won spectrum in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Assam, North East and Jammu & Kashmir for Rs  Rs. 3438.01 crore. Again, there’s no news about the company’s plans on the launch of 4G services.

State owned BSNL was looking to surrender its BWA spectrum and had received the Department of Telecommunications (DoT)’s nod in December 2011.

Augere To Launch 4G Services In India As ZOOSH In Q2-2012
FIPB Approves Tikona-HCL Infinet Deal; Augere Wireless’ FDI Infusion
Qualcomm Allowed To Invest Rs. 796.9 Crore In Indian BWA Biz; AETN18 Approved, Others Wait
India’s Broadband Wireless Auction Ends; Operator & Circlewise Results

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