DoT delays issuing Qualcomm’s Indian BWA concession amid bid concerns

14 Sep 2011

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) is reportedly refusing to allocate wireless broadband spectrum to US-based chipmaker Qualcomm, the Hindu Business Line is reporting. While Qualcomm was unveiled as one of the winning bidders in the state’s June 2010 Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) licence auction, it is understood that the regulator has raised an issue with the company’s bid, claiming that Qualcomm’s subsidiary companies which applied for concessions were not introduced within the 90-day period after the auction, as stipulated by the concessions. Further, it is claimed that the DoT has also taken the view that it could not issue four different licences to Qualcomm for each of the circles in which it won spectrum; the US company won BWA frequencies in Mumbai, Delhi, Kerala and Haryana, and then floated four separate companies before approaching the regulator for different concessions in each circle. For its part, the report cites an unnamed Qualcomm spokesperson as saying: ‘Qualcomm Inc had nominated these four companies (at that time [all] were fully owned Qualcomm subsidiaries) which applied for ISP licences on 9 August 2010. In the applications, these four companies explicitly stated that they are Qualcomm Inc nominees. The DoT vide their letter dated 30 November 2010, asked these four companies to submit proof of them being Qualcomm’s nominees, which Qualcomm Inc responded vide letter dated 20 December 2010. Hence, we do not understand what this issue is all about.’

It is, however, understood that Qualcomm has contacted the DoT with an offer of a compromise, with the chipmaker reportedly proposing that it would take one BWA licence, following which it would roll up its other three subsidiaries into a single licensee. ‘In the interest of expediting the licensing process, we have written a letter to the DoT asking, as a compromise, that DoT grant one licence instead of four. Upon doing so, we would then merge the three other entities into the fourth, which would hold the licence,’ Qualcomm said.