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Spectrum auction: Airtel acquires ₹18,699-cr airwaves; to benefit 90 mn more users – Mint

Bharti Airtel Ltd on Tuesday said that it acquired radiowaves worth 18,699 crore in India’s two-day-held 4G spectrum auction after five years.

Airtel said that it has acquired 355.45 MHz spectrum across Sub GHz, mid band and 2300 MHz bands for a total consideration of 18,699 crore in the latest spectrum auction that concluded today.

“This gives Airtel the most formidable spectrum holdings in the country. Airtel has now secured pan India foot print of Sub GHz spectrum that will help improve its deep indoor and in building coverage in every urban town,” the telco said in a regulatory filing.

In addition, this precious spectrum will also help improve its coverage in villages by offering the superior Airtel experience to an additional 90 million customers in India, the company stated.

“All of the spectrum will enable Airtel to deliver 5G services in future,” it further informed.

Spectrum auctions — that put on offer a total of 2308.80 MHz of spectrum worth 4 lakh crore in seven bands — concluded on Tuesday, the second day of bidding.

On Tuesday, the company’s scrip on BSE was trading 1.63% at 540.90 apiece during late trade.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel said, “We are most excited at bringing the power of Airtel services to an additional 90 million customers in India through the power of our Pan India Sub GHz footprint.”

The company added that despite the 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.

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,’ it said.

India’s first auction of spectrum in five years attracted 77,146 crore of bids on the opening day on Monday with Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea participating in the bidding process – a response that the government said was better than expected.

About 2,308.80 MHz of spectrum, that carry telecom signals, in seven bands worth nearly 4 lakh crore at the reserve or start price, was offered for bidding in the auction that began on Monday.

Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said 77,146 crore worth of spectrum was bid on the first day but there were no takers for the airwaves in the premium 700 MHz as also 2500 MHz bands. The response from players and the bids received surpassed government’s internal estimates, that had anticipated bids worth 45,000 crore. “The winning bids that have come till 6 PM today is 77,146 crore. We thought since there are only three players, and spectrum replacement is happening…our estimation was that the bids will touch about 45,000 crore, but it is a matter of assurance that it has gone as high as 77,146 crore,” Prasad said.

Spectrum will be offered for assignment for a validity period of 20 years. Successful bidders can pay entire bid amount in one go (upfront), or exercise an option to pay a certain amount (25% for spectrum won in 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz bands or 50% for spectrum won in 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz bands) upfront with remaining amount in a maximum up to 16 equated annual instalments, after a moratorium of two years. The government will get 12,000-13,000 crore in the current financial year and nearly the same amount is expected in the next fiscal.

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