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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Qualcomm Unveils LTE Plans for India

Qualcomm Inc. shook up the mobile broadband market today with plans to bid for 2.3GHz spectrum in the upcoming auction in India. If successful, the company plans to introduce TD-LTE technology into the Indian market with the help of local network operator partners. (See India Watch: The Road to 3G and Qualcomm to Bid for Indian LTE Spectrum.)

The move is interesting on many levels if Qualcomm is successful, though there are many hurdles for the company to leap before it can achieve its aims.

The main potential impact of this move is that it could help create a global market for TD-LTE technology, which, currently, has found significant support only in China -- China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), specifically. (See Motorola's Shanghai Hope and China Mobile Fast-Tracks TD-LTE .)

A new face for 2.3GHz in India
If Qualcomm is successful, it would provide a whole new dimension to the Indian mobile market, and likely force the current wireless service providers, such as Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL), Reliance Communications Ltd. , Tata Teleservices Ltd. , and Vodafone Essar , to rethink their strategies.

Qualcomm plans to bid for spectrum in the BWA (broadband wireless access) auction, where an unpaired slot of 20MHz in the 2.3GHz band is available in each of India's service circles. (See A Guide to India's Telecom Market to find out more about the circles, including a map.)

Until now, the BWA spectrum had been considered of interest to WiMax service providers: Bringing TD-LTE into the equation provides a whole new slant on what could be done with that spectrum, because the technology is capable, theoretically, of delivering downlink connections of 100 Mbit/s or more. Having such capabilities would enhance the potential for broadband service uptake in India, something the country's government is keen to promote.

Two slots of 20MHz spectrum are available in each circle in the 2.3GHz band. An additional slot has already been reserved in each circle for the state-owned carriers, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) .


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