Wednesday Business Mobile News brief: CDMA iPhone Rumors and more DoCoMo Money at Tata
Looks like the Verizon iPhone rumor for January 2011 is taking shape. And also tht Tata, the India CDMA carrier, could be getting more money from DoCoMo for their Tata DoCoMo GSM venture. I talked to Tata DoComo last year, and by now they should have covered all India telecom circles, but they have not yet.
CDMA iPhone rumours resurface
There is renewed speculation that Apple is readying a CDMA version of its iPhone (pictured) for launch by Verizon Wireless, fuelled by reports that Apple has submitted an order for “millions” of chipsets to Qualcomm for a device production run due to begin in December 2010. US website TechCrunch said that the proposed CDMA iPhone has a component supply chain that is sufficiently different to the WCDMA version to make the orders identifiable, and that Apple has not previously bought processors from Qualcomm for its WCDMA-based products. Taiwanese publication DigiTimes added that electronics manufacturing company Pegatron Technology is in the frame to construct the device, and that in addition to Verizon Wireless, China Telecom – another CDMA-based operator - will also sell the smartphone.
A manufacturing run in December 2010 would pave the way for a January 2011 launch, which would coincide with two major industry events: the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Ivan Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications is giving the keynote, and Apple’s own January product update. The possibility of a CDMA version of the iPhone has been suggested for several years, although Apple’s exclusive relationship with AT&T has meant that no other US operator has been able to offer the device to date. However, AT&T recently made reference to the end of its iPhone exclusivity period in a regulatory filing, sparking speculation that the contract may be nearing its conclusion. If both Verizon Wireless and China Telecom agree to offer the device, it is thought that Apple will be provided with a big enough potential customer base to justify creating the new CDMA version.
TTSL denies reports of further Docomo cash
Japan’s NTT Docomo is thought to be planning to invest an additional US$1 billion in India’s Tata Teleservices (TTSL) to lift its stake to as much as 40 percent – though the move has been denied by the Indian operator. India’s Economic Times newspaper reported that the investment would lift Docomo’s stake in TTSL – the unlisted telecoms subsidiary of the Tata Group conglomerate - to around 35-40 percent, up from 26 percent today. However, sources say that not all the funds will be infused in Tata Teleservices as Tata Group companies could sell part of their holding. “NTT Docomo is interested in increasing its stake and Tata [is] most likely to slowly sell [its] stake till they hold a minority stake in Tata Teleservices,” said a banking source. A spokesman for TTSL subsequently told Reuters that "there is no truth in any such reports," and refused to comment further on the speculation.
TTSL currently operates both GSM and CDMA networks in India and has around 72 million subscribers in total. The firm’s GSM network – known as Tata Docomo – was launched after Docomo spent US$2.7 billion to acquire its 26 percent stake in TTSL in 2008. This investment valued TTSL at around US$11 billion, though it is now thought to be valued at below US$10 billion. Despite high build-out costs – and the cost of acquiring recent Indian 3G licenses – Docomo has said it expects the business to be profitable by 2012. It has previously not ruled out increasing its stake.
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