Qualcomm: Propelling India onto the 5G Bandwagon

India is set for the next big transformation with 5G, and Qualcomm is helping players across the ecosystem to be ready for the ride.


  1. Qualcomm has invested 400 million in Hyderabad which is going to be a full-fledged campus after its head quarter office in San Diego.
  2. The project would include a built-up space of 1.7 million square feet housing about 10,000 employees.
  3. Indian citizens have swiftly transitioned from 3G to 4G attracting major businesses to leverage the customer base and invest in the market.
  4. Design in India Challenge is one of the programs run by Qualcomm to support government vision of empowering Digital India.

With major plans and a central vision of making its second regional global headquarters, Qualcomm is logging in big money in its Hyderabad project.

Chipmaker Qualcomm is infusing money and making efforts big time in India to gain an early lead in the intensifying technology-savvy users.

Making India central to its growth plans, the company that makes processor chips for the world’s leading mobile handset makers is looking to set up a massive fort which leverages the flagships schemes of the government like Digital India, Make in India and Invest India.

Qualcomm’s hand in India’s digital maturity

Qualcomm’s country manager Rajen Vagadia had once iterated that two significant aspects stood out for India’s massive tech maturity – the growing market for smartphones and the rapid adoption and implementation of 4G by telecom carriers which rapidly transitioned the market from 3G to 4G

This transition has been fuelled by solutions that Qualcomm provided, including the explosive growth of the Jio 4G feature phone at one end of the spectrum while our partners like Xiaomi have brought premium tier Snapdragon 845 at affordable prices,” said Rajen Vagadia, Country Manager of Qualcomm India.

Leveraging India’s IT Hub Hyderabad

Qualcomm is setting up a massive base in Telangana capital Hyderabad with a kitty of over $ 400 million or Rs. 3000 crore. They have been backed by the Telangana government for their initiative in a city with already houses regional headquarters of many of the global IT Giants.

On the initiation of Qualcomm’s project, Telangana Chief Minister KT Rama Rao had said: “By setting up its mega-campus in Hyderabad which is the largest globally after its headquarters in San Diego. Qualcomm now joins the elite list of companies that have their large presence outside their headquarters. We have Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and now Qualcomm. This list will only increase since a few more are in the pipeline and we are working actively. This is indeed a big boost to Telangana and the electronics and semiconductors industry.”

Qualcomm’s initiatives in India

DKODING | Qualcomm: Helping India board the 5G Bandwagon: Rajen Vagadia, Country Manager, Qualcomm India. | Credits: ET

Smartron partnership

The San Diego based semiconductor manufacturer already has a significant footprint in India even without having solid presence on the ground. Qualcomm has granted Smartron India a royalty-bearing patent license to develop, manufacture and sell WCDMA, CDMA2000, and 4G LTE complete electronic devices.

With this collaboration giving direct access to Qualcomm’s technology, Smartron has grown to become India’s first global technology OEM and IoT brand that is ‘designed and engineered’ in India.

Aqriti STEM project

As part of its CSR initiative, Qualcomm India, in association with United Way of Hyderabad and Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, launched a flagship project – Qualcomm Aqriti to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education among underprivileged girls.

With STEM education, Qualcomm intends to address community perceptions on gender equality through various outreach programs.

The initiative falls in line with the Skill India Mission of the government.  

Design in India Challenge

Qualcomm also has India’s longest running wireless hardware startup incubation programme which is backed and executed by its unit Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL).

As part of the challenge Qualcomm gives startups an IPR/patent generation incentive for a full utility patent application filed with either the US PTO or Indian PTO. As part of the program, Qualcomm helps startups extend design capabilities through its innovation lab in Bengaluru and launch products using Qualcomm technologies.

Research & Development focus

Qualcomm has built up serious R&D capability in India with the Innovation lab in Bengaluru.

The R&D team in India pushes the limits of innovation in semiconductor and mobile technologies.

With Indian operations specializing in wireless and digital media networking solutions, Qualcomm wants to refine and redefine the mobile experience for the Indian consumer with one of the largest IP design centers in the world.

“We are constantly pushing boundaries of what is possible with AI. Our research areas include 5G, AI, mobile, IoT, industrial IoT, connectivity, ASIC, cellular vehicle communications, wireless, autonomous driving, autonomous robotics, always-on computing vision module and virtual reality,” said Country Manager Rajen Vagadia. 

Affordable advanced connectivity for developing economies

Qualcomm launched the 205 Mobile Platform which brings 4G LTE connectivity to entry-level feature phones. The product is built with those consumers in mind who are unable to avail high quality, affordable, reliable mobile devices in emerging regions, such as India, Latin America, and Southeast Asia.

Qualcomm’s vision encompasses the idea that bringing advanced connectivity to emerging regions can have a deep impact on the users. Small enterprises which are a major component of the Indian economy can leverage reliable, faster and more secure services in basic cheap devices.

“Feature phones are a lifeline in many emerging countries and the Qualcomm 205 Mobile Platform allows us to bring 4G connectivity and services to the masses with devices at price points never seen before,” said Kedar Kondap, Vice President, Product Management, Qualcomm Technologies.

Patent way to Success

One of Qualcomm’s major mantras of success is the company’s focus on the patent aspect of technology. Qualcomm submitted 1,840 patent applications in India between 2016-17, when all Indian Institutes of Technology(IITs) collectively filed 400 patents and at third was Wipro with 226 applications.

The Bengaluru-headquartered IT major was the leading company to file patents in the field of Information Technology at 190. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) followed at 159. Qualcomm’s focus on R&D is unmatched in the industry with its expertise being way ahead of other players in information technology.

Backing India to get on the 5G train

Qualcomm’s efforts present the biggest single push in India towards the 5G bandwagon.

India’s 4G transition was lightening fast on the back of Reliance Jio’s mass proliferation.

Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon has in the past reiterated that he wants India to be a 5G market as fast as 4G. Qualcomm is working with stakeholders like regulators and device makers to catalyse India’s deployment of 5G networks.

5G will spur massive Internet of Things (IoT) deployment and help sectors like manufacturing, retail, education and healthcare to transform to the next level. While the government is yet to announce a specific timeline, industry expects 5G to have a 2020 rollout once the auctions are complete.

Moving forward

Qualcomm and mobile phone maker OnePlus announced in Feb 2019 that they were working to launch smartphones powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and have plans to work with Qualcomm on 5G trials.

India’s telecom players don’t have the necessary spectrum to deploy 5G. Qualcomm has played an active part in engaging with the ministry of telecom and regulators in helping them design the 5G roadmap.

From this, one can speculate that by 2020, India will be transformed from 4G to 5G network. With huge investment, device partnerships and extensive R&D infrastructure, Qualcomm is leading the way to take India to the 5G bandwagon.


  1. Qualcomm has India’s longest running wireless hardware startup incubation programme which helps startups extend design capabilities through its innovation lab in Bengaluru.
  2. Extensive focus on R&D, enabled it to file 1,840 patent applications in India between 2016-17 – second was all IITs combined with 400 patents and Wipro at third with 226 applications.
  3. Qualcomm is working with stakeholders across the spectrum, from helping ministry of telecom, regulators and telcos design the 5G roadmap, and phone makers to rollout compatible devices
  4. The government is out with a road map, which puts the timeline at a 2020 rollout once the auctions and licensing processes are complete.

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