Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Expand Spectrum Base in 900MHz Band

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Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Expand Spectrum Base in 900MHz Band
Three leading telecom players Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea retained and expanded their holding in premium 900MHz, but RCom lost its holding in the same band in five circles.

Meanwhile, RIL's telecom arm Reliance Jio Infocomm, which holds 4G spectrum across the country, also bagged airwaves in 800MHz and 1800MHz bands which would enable it to boost 4G offerings with voice services.

"Jio's seamless 4G services using proven multi-band LTE technology and supported by our large spectrum footprint will provide superior user experience for voice, video and data services in line with the best service providers in the world," Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh D Ambani said.

Airtel made successful bids worth Rs. 29,130.2 crores in 23 circles, which include 10 service areas in 900MHz band, six in 1800MHz and seven circles for 3G spectrum, according to auction details released on Thursday.

Spectrum in 900MHz held by Airtel through six licences was put up for auction.

Idea retained 900MHz airwaves in nine circles that came up for renewal and also made successful bids in seven other service areas.

Vodafone defended the premium airwaves in seven circles while wining fresh spectrum in another one.

In the case of RCom, seven permits came up for renewal but it could defend the 900MHz airwaves in two circles only.

However, RCom won spectrum across 18 telecom circles, which include 11 service areas of 800MHz band and five in 1800MHz as well.

All these permits of four companies are expiring in 2015-16 period.

Bharti Airtel MD and CEO for India and South Asia Gopal Vittal in a statement said, "We have secured a 20-year roadmap and have a strong platform to lead the Digital India story.

However, the auction design and the scarcity of spectrum have resulted in exorbitant bids to secure the spectrum."

Idea is the biggest bidder in value terms at Rs. 30,306.98 crores. Vodafone has made total commitment of Rs. 25,959.74 crores.

Besides, Reliance Jio Infocomm acquired 800MHz band or CDMA spectrum across 10 service areas and 1800MHz band, widely known as 2G, in six service areas to expand scope for its planned 4G service. The company has committed Rs. 10,077.53 crores in the auction.

Tata Teleservices acquired 800MHz spectrum in six service area and 1800MHz spectrum in Andhra Pradesh only for Rs. 7,851.33 crores.

Aircel made successful bids for 2G spectrum in Tamil Nadu service area only for which it has committed payment of Rs. 2,250 crores.

Government got Rs. 1,09,874.91 crores in the most fiercely and biggest ever spectrum auction that concluded yesterday.

With fresh spectrum acquisition Airtel has now capability to provide pan-India 4G service like Reliance Jio which was the only operator so far to have pan-India spectrum for 4G services.

Airtel has renewed all its spectrum holdings in the 900MHz band in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and North East circles and acquired additional spectrum in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, North East, Assam, Bihar and Orissa.

The company already held 3G spectrum across 13 out of 22 telecom circles in the country.

In this auction, Airtel expanded its 3G spectrum footprint in six service area - Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh (East), Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

Airtel acquired addition 3G spectrum in Tamil Nadu.

The telcom major acquired 1800MHz spectrum across Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, Orissa, Haryana and North East which can be used for 4G services.

"Post the latest spectrum acquisition, Bharti Airtel's spectrum mix will give it unmatched reach in the mobile data segment across 3G and 4G with a pan India footprint," the company said.

Vodafone too expanded its 3G spectrum footprint from nine circle to 16.

"We remain committed to providing seamless connectivity and superior communication services to our customers and will expand our 3G service from 9 to 16 circles," Vodafone India Managing Director and CEO Marten Pieters said.

These circles in total represent 88 percent of Vodafone India's service revenues.

Idea Cellular said that it has retained its crucial 900MHz spectrum in nine of service areas that account for over 73 percent of the company's revenues.

Idea said that it has also acquired additional spectrum in the 1800MHz band in six key Service Areas, 2100MHz in the strategic metro market of Kolkata, and additional 5MHz on 900MHz in Maharashtra for second carrier of 3G services.

"This will enable Idea to further expand its 3G Services to 13 circles covering 80 percent of its overall revenue and enable 4G roll out on 1800MHz in 10 Service Areas covering 61 percent of Idea's gross revenue," the company said in a statement.

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