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Airtel buys Rs 18,699 cr worth spectrum, Reliance Jio shops for 3 times more

Airtel buys Rs 18,699 cr worth spectrum, Reliance Jio shops for 3 times more
Photo Credit: Reuters
2 Mar, 2021

Bharti Airtel on Tuesday said it has bought 355.45 megahertz (MHz) spectrum across Sub-Gigahertz (Sub-GHz), mid band and 2300 MHz bands for Rs 18,699 crores in the latest spectrum auction conducted by the Indian government’s Department of Telecommunications.

At the same auction, Reliance Jio Infocomm acquired spectrum in 800 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 2300 MHz bands, for a price of Rs 57,123 crore in exchange for the right to use this technology agnostic spectrum for a period of 20 years.

Airtel’s spectrum will help it improve coverage to additional 90 million customers in India, a statement said, adding that strengthening of the telecom service provider’s mid band and capacity spectrum holdings will help provide customer experience at marginal capital expenditure.

Apart from enabling Airtel to deliver 5G services in future, the full spectrum acquisition of this pan-India footprint of Sub-GHz spectrum will help it improve its deep indoor and in building coverage in every urban town, Airtel’s statement said.

Commenting about Jio’s spectrum shopping, Reliance Industries’ chairman Mukesh Ambani said, “We want to ensure that we keep on enhancing experiences, not only for our existing customers, but also for the next 300 million users that will move to digital services. With our increased spectrum footprint, we are ready to further expand the digital footprint in India as well as get ourselves ready for the imminent 5G rollout.”

Through its latest acquisition, Reliance Jio’s total owned spectrum footprint has increased by 55% to 1,717 MHz of uplink and downlink, it added in a separate statement.

Read: 5G market in APAC to reach $125 bn by 2025: Frost & Sullivan

The spectrum will help improve Airtel’s coverage to additional 90 million customers in India, the statement said adding that Airtel’s strengthening of its mid band and capacity spectrum holdings will help provide customer experience at marginal capital expenditure.

The statement added that despite a large amount of spectrum made available, the 700 MHz band bands did not get any bid from the operators as it made no economic case for them based on the high reserve prices.

Read: 5G spectrum auction within this fiscal, price reforms on the cards

“The 700 MHz band coupled with the 3.5 GHz band has the potential  to accelerate India's progress to the top league of digitally enabled nations. Therefore, the reserve pricing of these bands must be addressed on priority in future. This will help the nation to benefit from the digital dividend that will inevitably arise out of this,” the statement said.