Bharti Airtel acquires Tikona to bolster 4G offering with BWA spectrum

Indian market leader Bharti Airtel is acquiring the 4G unit of Tikona Digital Networks.

Tikona’s 4G assets include 350 sites across five telecom circles and its broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum. It holds 20MHz of spectrum in the 2300MHz band across Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh East & West.

As soon as the transaction is closed, Airtel will use its newly obtained spectrum to deploy high-speed 4G services across these areas. The operator will handle the acquisition itself in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, while its subsidiary Bharti Hexacom will oversee the deal in Rajasthan.

The operator stated that “the proposed acquisition will enable Airtel to fill BWA spectrum gaps in the 2300MHz band [in Rajasthan/Uttar Pradesh] thereby securing a pan India footprint in the band. Post completion of the deal, Airtel will have 30MHz in the 2300MHz band in 13 circles giving it tremendous advantage to handle the surging data demand.”

Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO for India and South Asia at Bharti Airtel, added: “We believe that combining our capacities in TD-LTE and FD-LTE will further bolster our network, and help us provide unmatched high-speed wireless broadband experience to our customers.”

In December 2015, rival operator Vodafone failed in a bid to obtain Tikona’s 2300MHz spectrum. It turned its attention to cable firm You Broadband, buying the firm for INR4 billion in 2016 in order to shore up its fixed-line offering. Tikona had scrapped plans to deliver 4G broadband to 30 Indian cities within the first half of 2016.

Airtel’s deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, comes hot on the heels of the announcement that Vodafone Group and Idea Cellular have agreed to merge their Indian units, creating a new market leader with a 37% market share. 

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