India gets its first CDMA phone maker

India will soon have its first home-grown CDMA handset maker following a licensing deal announced Monday with Qualcomm Inc.

Himachal Futuristic Communications Ltd. (HFCL) plans to start manufacturing CDMA phones and other mobile devices in April next year, said S.K. Garg, HFCL's senior vice president for business development.

The Delhi-based company plans to make 4 million units in the first year, of which about 3 million will be mobile phones and the rest fixed wireless phones and CDMA modules, such as PC cards for computers.

The products will be aimed initially at the domestic market, but down the line HFCL is looking at exports as well, Garg said on Monday.

CDMA technology vendor Qualcomm, of San Diego, California, announced Monday that it has signed a licensing deal with HFCL for use of its CDMA2000 technology, including a patent license to develop, manufacture and sell CDMA2000 products.

The deal is the first with an Indian company and provides a shot in the arm for Qualcomm, which was recently criticized by Indian operators for charging too much for its royalty rates and pushing up mobile phone prices in India, a cost sensitive market.

HFCL will pay Qualcomm license fees at standard worldwide rates, the companies said.

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