Qualcomm on 15 March 2012 got a licence for wireless broadband services, more than a year after it won spectrum through an auction.
The company had won spectrum in four circles during the auction held in 2010 for nearly Rs 5,000 crore. However, the Department of Telecom (DoT) had held back the licence on technical issues.
Qualcomm had floated a subsidiary for each of the circles but the DoT had raised objections on grounds that it cannot give four licences. The US-based chipmaker will now apply for spectrum in the four circles, after which it will have to merge it all into one company.
The development paves way for the company to move ahead with its plans to bring in a strategic partner for the broadband venture. At present, Qualcomm owns majority stake in the venture while GTL and Tulip Telecom together own 26 per cent. Qualcomm had planned to palm off the venture to one of the telecom players by the end of 2011, but could not do so due to DoT's objections.
Last week, Qualcomm paid up Rs 410 crore to the DoT on behalf of Qualcomm's joint venture partner Tulip Telecom, after the latter said it could not issue the licence until past dues were settled.
Despite Tulip contesting the dues, Qualcomm paid the amount on March 7. This came after the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal ordered the DoT to issue the licences within a week of settling the dues.
The Tribunal has also asked Qualcomm to apply for spectrum after getting the licence in accordance with the guidelines issued at the time of conducting the auction. It also told the DoT not to adopt any adversarial approach and allocate spectrum to the company expeditiously.