One day after India's Bharti Airtel launched TD-LTE services in one city, it has been reported that the operator is in talks to acquire Qualcomm's 4G spectrum.
Bharti Airtel is negotiating to pay around 60 billion rupees ($1.16 billion) for Qualcomm's BWA spectrum, India's Economic Times reported, citing a person close to the deal.
According to the source, the deal is likely to be closed by June, and could involve an accompanying technology sharing agreement.
Qualcomm paid 49.13 billion rupees for 20 MHz of TD-LTE compatible frequencies in four circles – including the crucial Delhi and Mumbai areas - during the 2010 broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum auction.
Bharti Airtel holds BWA licenses in four different circles, having paid 33.14 billion rupees in the auction.
A deal with Qualcomm would allow Bharti Airtel to expand its prospective 4G service area, which could crucially allow it to better compete with Reliance Industries, which own 4G spectrum in all circles and plans to deploy a pan-India TD-LTE network.
Bharti Airtel does have a head start on its competition – the operator launched TD-LTE services in the city of Kolkata yesterday.
A sale would make sense for Qualcomm, as the company has been clear it bid for the licenses to stimulate TD-LTE adoption in India, instead of having plans to deploy its own network.
The company finally received its BWA licenses last month, after a protracted application process.