Qualcomm disputes India's DoT claims that its application for broadband licences were invalid

Qualcomm has hit back at India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) after being told it stands to lose its $1bn investment and the licences it won in the country’s BWA auction in May 2010.

The company said that it applied for its ISP licence through four locally incorporated entities on August 9th 2010, within three months of winning spectrum, as required by the DoT. The DoT recently argued that Qualcomm had not applied until December last year.

“These entities at that time were fully owned subsidiaries of Qualcomm Incorporated.  In the applications, these four companies explicitly stated the fact that they are Qualcomm Inc nominees,” Qualcomm said in a statement supplied to Telecoms.com.

“DoT vide their letters dated 30th Nov 2010 and 2nd December, 2010 asked these four companies to submit proof of them being Qualcomm’s nominees, to which Qualcomm Inc responded vide letter dated 20th Dec 2010. Thereafter, DoT’s licensing wing has been in communication with these four companies towards license issuance,” the company said.

It added that Quacomm, and its four subsidiaries, have written several letters to DoT and met DoT officials multiple times, requesting to expedite the licensing process.

“We believe we have been in full compliance of all the regulatory requirements. Our four applications are in line with the NIA requirements and the undertaking submitted by us along with our bid application. The undertaking (page 94) clause (c) of the NIA explicitly requires new entrants to apply for an ISP license in the specified service area, in case the applicant is declared successful in that service area.”

The company went on to say that India’s DoT seems to have a different interpretation and, since it has not yet issued Qualcomm the licence, and in the interest of expediting the licensing process, the company has written a letter to DoT on 9th Sept 2011 agreeing to DoT’s interpretation of granting one license instead of four.

“Upon doing so, we would then merge the three other entities into the fourth, which would hold the license,” said Qualcomm.

Qualcomm has invested $1bn in India, one of the largest investments made so far by the firm outside the US, and said that this reiterates its faith and belief in the potential of this market.

“Since we have followed all the stipulated rules in both letter and spirit, we believe that DoT should grant us license immediately, so that we can execute our plans of empowering India and its consumers with broadband connectivity. Any delay in this regard will dampen the spirit and decrease the momentum, and is not in the interest of the stakeholders and consumers.”

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