Airtel strengthens its stronghold in Indian telecom space post auction

call-drops-indiaAfter the recent auction was concluded, Bharti Airtel now holds the largest amount of spectrum across airwaves in 2100MHz, 1800MHz and 900MHz. Airtel had spend a total of Rs 29,130.20 crore in the last auction. While Idea and Vodafone were busy renewing their 900MHz spectrum Airtel was shopping for additional spectrum after it renewed its expiring spectrum.

3G spectrum in 21 circles

Airtel now stands to offer 3G service in all circles expect for Kerala. Airtel holds 2100Mhz 3G spectrum in 19 circles and has 900MHz spectrum which can be used for 3G service in Kolkata and Punjab where it lack 2100Mhz spectrum. Airtel has already launched 3G service in Kolkata under platinum 3G brand. In Punjab Airtel has won 10MHz of 900MHz spectrum out of which Airtel is expected to use 5MHz for 3G service. Airtel is all set to become the largest 3G operator in the country with near pan India 3G service no other operator in the country can offer.

In an unexpected move Airtel bought off the 3G spectrum on sale in Tamilnadu circle were it already hold 2100MHz spectrum. With this move Airtel not only increased its 3G spectrum holding in the circle but also stopped entry of another 3G operator in the circle there by avoiding competition. As Airtel now holds 3G spectrum in almost all circles, in future 3G spectrum auction Airtel would top up its 3G spectrum holding for 3G service expantion and also block entry of new 3G operators.

4G service on 1800MHz

Traditionally considered as 2G spectrum 1800MHz is now viewed as ideal spectrum for 4G service. Airtel currently holds more than 5MHz of 1800MHz spectrum in 19 circles out of which in 8 circles have 10MHz or more spectrum available. This will allow Airtel to offer 4G and 2G service on 1800MHz seamlessly in these circles.

900MHz platinum 3G service

Airtel has already started 3G service on 900MHz in Mumbai and Delhi as platinum 3G. The 3G service on 900MHz is far more efficient than 3G service on 2100MHz. Airtel holds more than 5MHz liberalized 900MHz spectrum in 10 circles which can be used to offer 3G service. In some circles Airtel holds 8MHz or more of 900MHz spectrum and this would allow to offer both 2G and 3G service on 900MHz.

Airtel snatches 900MHz spectrum from rivals

Airtel not only renewed its expiring 900MHz spectrum but also acquired additional 900MHz spectrum which was held by rival operators. Reliance Communications lost 900MHz spectrum in 5 circles to Airtel and Vodafone who were fighting hard for it.

RCOM was not the only victim of Airtel fierce battle in 900MHz,  Idea which held 6.2MHz or 7.2MHz of 900MHz spectrum in many circle had to reduce its holding to 5MHz post auction. Most of which was snatched by spectrum hungry Airtel. Vodafone also lost few MHz of 900MHz in some circles to Airtel.

Airtel dominating India telecom space

Airtel’s undisputed position as no:1 mobile operator in the country is further strengthen with the acquisition of additional airwaves in the auction ended. With this move Airtel ensure its continued growth in 2G, 3G and 4G service in the country. For rival operators this was a missed opportunity to take on Airtel.

Circle2100 MHz2300 MHz1800 MHz900 MHz
Delhi5 MHz20 MHz7 MHz6 MHz
Mumbai5 MHz20 MHz15.2 MHz5 MHz
Kolkata20 MHz7 MHz7 MHz
Andhra Pradesh5 MHz10 MHz9 MHz
Gujarat5 MHz6.2 MHz
Karnataka5 MHz20 MHz8.8 MHz8.8 MHz
Maharastra5 MHz20 MHz8.2 MHz
Tamil Nadu10 MHz14.2 MHz6.2 MHz
Haryana5 MHz20 MHz9.6 MHz
Kerala20 MHz11.2 MHz
Madhya Pradesh5 MHz13.8 MHz
Punjab20 MHz9.2 MHz10 MHz
Rajasthan5 MHz8.2 MHz6 MHz
Utterpradesh East5 MHz1 MHz6.2 MHz
Utterpradesh West5 MHz6.2 MHz
West Bengal5 MHz6.2 MHz6.6 MHz
Assam5 MHz5.6 MHz8 MHz
Bihar5 MHz3 MHz7.8 MHz
Himachal Pradesh5 MHz10.2 MHz7.4 MHz
Jammu & Kashmir5 MHz2.6 MHz6.2 MHz
North East5 MHz10.4 MHz13.2 MHz
Orissa5 MHz13 MHz7.4 MHz

Please share your views on Airtel acquiring most spectrum in last auction.

An IT professional who has got great passion for telecom. Has been closely watching Indian telecom space since 2009.

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