An acquisition of a minority stake by Bharti Airtel, India’s largest phone services firm, in a broadband wireless firm sets itself squarely against an ambitious high-speed data services venture that Mukesh Ambani, the richest Indian, is priming for launch next year.
Airtel announced on Friday that it has acquired 6.55 per cent of Wireless Business Services, a subsidiary of US chipmaker Qualcomm, that won broadband wireless access (BWA) licences in 2010. The Sunil Mittal-controlled Airtel has owned 49 per cent of Wireless Business Services since May 2012, and increased share to 93.45 per cent in July this year.
Airtel, which has already launched 4G services in Kolkata and Bangalore, has spent a total of about $336 million buying up all of Wireless Business Services.
BWA spectrum is the fastest way to provide Internet, up to ten times faster than speeds offered by third generation, or 3G, networks.