Interview With Avneesh Agrawal, President, Qualcomm India & South Asia

TeleAnalysis spoke to Dr. Avneesh Agrawal, President, Qualcomm India & South Asia, who has more than 100 patents to his name in various aspects of telecommunications technologies, and is the man who designed the first WCDMA chipset for the San Diego headquartered technology firm, to understand the dynamism of the telecommunications industry, the technological advancements taking place around the globe and what India expects from the newly formed government under the leadership of Narendra Modi.

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Avneesh Agrawal, President, Qualcomm India & South Asia

What is Qualcomm’s focus in 2014?
From network perspective, we need more spectrum for 2100 MHz. 4G network will use both 2300 MHz and 1800 MHz so we need to grow the device eco-system and also grow them to the next level. Dual band will help in improving capacity, battery life or both so device eco-system will be a priority. Looking forward our focus is more on launching more smartphones in the country.

In FY 2013-14, smartphone sales has done pretty well in India. How do you see smartphone growth in FY 2014-15?
There is no reason for smartphone sales to slowdown. The consumer preference is very clear. Data consumption is increasing on the network side and our belief is that most operators in 900 MHz and 1800 MHz will roll out 3G and 4G operations. Both network capacity and supply side data is also increasing. Also more spectrum will be required for 3G and 4G operations in the country.

2G smartphone users are price sensitive, 3G smartphones are more for data experience and are superior whereas 4G smartphones are of premium quality. In India, with the price elasticity, there is huge mass of consumer below as well as above. The 4G affordability curve will help in bringing affordable 4G smartphones in the country.

How do you see uptake of Windows smartphone in India?
Smartphone is operating system agnostics. Consumers choose Microsoft as it is a successful operating system. One has to see how it evolves as technology as user experience is fantastic. For Windows 8.1, we have partnered with Microsoft for reference design. The growth with Windows OEM is much faster and there is a stronger growth for Windows phone. With reference design, we are looking at increasing user experience and high quality smartphones OEMs focuses on small changes in hardware and software which helps in reducing cost of development also time of development.

How will Indian operators deploy mobile broadband in the country?
Indian operators will deploy multiple spectrum brands for mobile broadband. LTE networks will use both bands i.e with Carrier Aggregation or without Carrier Aggregation. Most of the operators will support both bands i.e. 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz. 1800 MHz will be used for coverage whereas 2300 MHz will be used for capacity. Even devices will support both the bands i.e. 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz.

The next version of Snapdragon chipset, the Snapdragon 400 series and Snapdragon 600 series devices will come towards end of the year which will have more features and will have more price points.

How do you see LTE-A development in the world?
LTE-A is presently active in the US, Japan and Korea. Operators are using multiple bands Carrier Aggregation to provide higher user experience but consumers are never satisfied. In Korea, operators are using 3 bands to provide better user experience.

How are you progressing on Ethernet over Coax?
Ethernet over Coax is not a strong focus area for Qualcomm as our focus area is to grow wireless business

What is the broad mandate of Qualcomm Ventures in India?
Qualcomm Ventures is an active venture and are investing globally as well as in India. Qualcomm is focusing on anything related to wireless, mobile and Internet. We have also introduced QPrize in 7 regions where Qualcomm gives seed investment to the tune of $100,000 for encouraging small companies in the eco-system. We plan to give additional $150,000 depending upon credibility and experience.

How do you see M2M development in India?
In India, M2M is early. Presently, M2M is starting at a global level in advanced wireless market like Japan, Korea and US and eventually it will come to India. M2M is compelling as machine can talk to each other and which is the use case.

Presently, M2M focus is on smart watches and smart metering but killer applications will evolve. M2M modules will use Qualcomm’s Gobi modem for connectivity.

What’s your expectations from the Modi government?
The expectations from the Modi government is availability of more spectrum, making mobile broadband transformative and making telecom policy consistent. The policy should also follow global best practices.

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