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India’s 2015 Spectrum Auction Results: What The Telecom Operators Are Saying

India’s 2015 spectrum auction concluded on March 25, after 19 days and 115 rounds of bidding. Several participating operators have issued statements reacting to this and stating their plans on how they intend to use the spectrum:

Bharti Airtel

Bharti Airtel says that now it will be able to offer pan India 4G services using a combination of FD-LTE technology in the 1800 MHz band and TD-LTE roll out in the 2300 MHz band. It will also be able to offer 3G across all markets with the exception of Kerala using a combination of 900 MHz and 2100 MHz.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO – India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel said that the auction design and the scarcity of spectrum have resulted in exorbitant bids to secure the spectrum, particularly in renewal circles, where huge investments have already been made on the assurance of a continuity of business enshrined in the licenses issued by the DoT. We hope that in future auctions, the Government will make available adequate spectrum by securing it from agencies and operators who are underutilising this vital resource.

Bharti Airtel has acquired 111.6 MHz of spectrum across 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands for a total consideration of Rs 29,130 crore in the just concluded spectrum auction. Of this, Rs 17,618 crore has been spent on renewal of existing spectrum, while the remaining Rs 11,512 crore has been spent on procuring new spectrum.

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The company mentioned that it has successfully renewed all its spectrum holdings in the 900 MHz band – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and North East circles. It has also acquired additional spectrum in the 900 MHz band in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, North East, Assam, Bihar and Odisha circles.

Vodafone India

Vodafone India 1

Vodafone India 2

Vodafone India says it has bought spectrum in all six of its 900 MHz circles due for extension in December 2015 – Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh (East). It has also acquired 5 MHz of 900 MHz band spectrum in Odisha, and 30 MHz of spectrum in the 2100 MHz band in six new circles.

Vodafone India plans to expand its 3G service over its own network from 9 circles to 16 circles.  These circles in total represent 88% of Vodafone India’s service revenues. Marten Pieters, Managing Director & CEO, Vodafone India said that with the spectrum acquired in this auction, they have ensured the continuity of their business and increased their capability to provide high speed 3G coverage to more areas.

Vodafone is spending a total Rs 25,810 crore in this auction of which Rs 6820 crore has to be paid as upfront payment within the next 10 days.

Idea Cellular

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Idea Cellular has retained 900 MHz spectrum in the 9 circles coming up for renewal in 2015-16. These 9 circles, the company says, account for 73% of its overall revenues and about 70% of its subscriber base. Idea has also acquired additional spectrum in the 1800 MHz band in six key circles, 2100 MHz spectrum in Kolkata, plus additional 5 MHz of 900 MHz spectrum in Maharashtra. This, the company says, will allow Idea to expand its 3G Services to 13 circles covering 80% of its overall revenue and enable 4G roll out on 1800 MHz in 10 Service Areas covering 61% of Idea’s gross revenue, the company says.

Idea has acquired a total of 79.4 MHz spectrum during this auction for Rs 30,100 crore. The company will be availing of the deferred payment facility offered by the Government and is likely to pay Rs 7,732 crores as upfront payment, and the remaining amount in 10 equal annual instalments starting after a moratorium of 2 years.

Reliance Communications

RCom 1RCom 2

Reliance Communications retained spectrum in the 900 MHz & 1800 MHz bands in 4 of the 7 circles coming up for renewal in 2015-16. The company mentions that it currently holds 3G and CDMA spectrum in these 7 circles, and will transition existing 2G customers in the remaining 3 circles to 3G before December 2015.

The company seemed to be mostly interested in the 800 MHz band. It picked up close to 25 MHz spectrum across 11 circles in the 800 MHz band. It also claimed that appropriate ICR arrangements have been made to ensure uninterrupted service to customers in all circles.

Total bids by RCom in the spectrum auctions amount to Rs 4,299 crore, of which almost 50% was spent on acquiring spectrum in the 800 MHz band. The company will be making an upfront payment of Rs 1,106 crore.

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Reliance Jio Infocomm

Reliance Jio

Reliance Jio says it plans to provide 4G services using LTE in 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2300MHz bands through an integrated ecosystem.After this auction the company has spectrum in either 800MHz or 1800MHz or both in 20 out of total 22 circles in the country.

It’s worth noting that after the February 2014 auction, the company had said it will be using the spectrum acquired in 1800MHz band along with its pan-India 2300MHz spectrum to address the expected increase in demand for digital services and improve its in-building coverage. However, the company hasn’t launched its 4G services till date.

Reliance Jio Infocomm has to pay a total Rs 10,077.53 crore for the spectrum acquired, of which 26.75% or Rs 2,695 crore is being paid initially and the remaining through ten annual installments after the two year moratorium.

We’ll update this post as and when we get more reactions from telecom operators

Also Read: India’s 2015 Spectrum Auction Results: Which telco won what

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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