Jio Infocomm emerges as dark horse of Indian auctions

Reliance Jio Infocomm has bagged spectrum in 14 of India’s 22 telecom circles following the country’s auctions, which will allow it to compete with market leaders Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India.

The four operators were the big winners in the auctions, gaining 1800MHz spectrum in most of the country’s main telecom circles. Overall there were 8 participants in the auctions, which attracted a final bid total of almost $10 billion – well over the original projections.

The most coveted areas were Delhi and Mumbai – two of only three circles in which 900MHz spectrum was available. Bharti and Vodafone were especially keen to win spectrum in these circles, as the licences for the airwaves they current hold in these cities will expire in November. The two firms paid around $3 billion each to retain their foothold in the Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata circles.

Jio Infocomm won 1800MHz frequencies in all three of these circles along with 11 others, allowing it to face off against the market leaders. Idea Cellular meanwhile procured 900MHz spectrum in Delhi but ceded the frequencies in Mumbai and Kolkata. It also obtained 1800MHz spectrum in 8 circles, spending $1.7 billion. The operator will use these frequencies to offer 4G services.

1800MHz spectrum in Delhi and Mumbai also attracted a lot of attention, although bids were significantly lower than those for the 900MHz band. Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu also proved desirable among those bidding for 1800MHz spectrum.

Aircel won spectrum in 5 circles, allowing it to increase its footprint and augment network quality. Uninor obtained additional 1800MHz spectrum in 4 of its 6 circles as well as winning frequencies in a new one, Assam. This will allow it to increase its capacity for voice and data by up to 25%.

Reliance Communications – a separate entity from Jio Infocomm – gained spectrum in Mumbai, while Vodafone won frequencies in the 1800MHz band across 11 circles.


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