Bharti Airtel, the international telecomms company, and Qualcomm, the firm known for its next-gen mobile tech, have announced an agreement for Bharti to acquire an stake in Qualcomm Asia Pacific’s Indian broadband and wireless access (BWA) entities.
Under the agreement, Bharti has made an initial investment of $165m and will roll out 4G networks in Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerela. Once commercial operations are launched, Bharti hopes to claim complete ownership of the BWA entities by the end of 2014.
Bharti already has BWA licences in Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra and 3G licenses in 13 regions in India. This new deal means that Bharti’s footprint is going to be huge as the company secures a nation-wide lead through a combination of its 4G and 3G services.
Qualcomm expects to provide technical assistance to Bharti in connection with network architecture and optimization, infrastructure and device testing, as well as continuing to develop and support the underlying technology and the LTE TDD ecosystem.
Bharti kick-started the roll out of 4G across India earlier this year. At the time of announcement the service was accessible with a dongle only as there was a lack of compatible handsets.
India has a high level of mobile internet users though, mobile access to the Internet is set to exceed that of PCs by the end of this year. Getting this 4G infrastructure firmly in place will help when handsets become more easily available and prices start to fall.