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.

Circle 2100 MHz 2300 MHz 1800 MHz 900 MHz
Delhi 5 MHz 20 MHz 7 MHz 6 MHz
Mumbai 5 MHz 20 MHz 15.2 MHz 5 MHz
Kolkata 20 MHz 7 MHz 7 MHz
Andhra Pradesh 5 MHz 10 MHz 9 MHz
Gujarat 5 MHz 6.2 MHz
Karnataka 5 MHz 20 MHz 8.8 MHz 8.8 MHz
Maharastra 5 MHz 20 MHz 8.2 MHz
Tamil Nadu 10 MHz 14.2 MHz 6.2 MHz
Haryana 5 MHz 20 MHz 9.6 MHz
Kerala 20 MHz 11.2 MHz
Madhya Pradesh 5 MHz 13.8 MHz
Punjab 20 MHz 9.2 MHz 10 MHz
Rajasthan 5 MHz 8.2 MHz 6 MHz
Utterpradesh East 5 MHz 1 MHz 6.2 MHz
Utterpradesh West 5 MHz 6.2 MHz
West Bengal 5 MHz 6.2 MHz 6.6 MHz
Assam 5 MHz 5.6 MHz 8 MHz
Bihar 5 MHz 3 MHz 7.8 MHz
Himachal Pradesh 5 MHz 10.2 MHz 7.4 MHz
Jammu & Kashmir 5 MHz 2.6 MHz 6.2 MHz
North East 5 MHz 10.4 MHz 13.2 MHz
Orissa 5 MHz 13 MHz 7.4 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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Madhan KumarSayantanSubhaRogerMooreRhishav Recent comment authors
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Today I experienced a furious customer care of airtel prepaid Kolkata. Today in the evening I called 198 and asked the CCE about the proper person/ address where I can launch a “Complaint” as they do not take any complain. The cce replied me ” Network problem occurs due to tower. Find out the nearest tower and go there to make a complain. We should not take any complain”. This is the airtel. I have decided whatever airtel quality will be in future but from today I should never use airtel. I have decided to port out from airtel. If… Read more »

Madhan Kumar
Madhan Kumar

@Subha: Yeah,Airtel is a fraud better port out to Bsnl!


I simply love airtel’s services in Kolkata. They have improved quite a lot with their 3G. 2G voice is just disgusting in Kolkata. But if you get 3G on 900 MHz band then my friend you should stick to it. I have not been deducted or looted by airtel which maybe surprising to many. But I guess it changes from place to place. I was earlier looted by Vodafone with their unfair deductions so I had to leave them. I really like airtel for their good All India presence. They have coverage problems where they don’t have 900MHz spectrum and… Read more »


Dear Mr. Rhishav, you are really lucky that you never faced unfair deduction from airtel. It is true that Vodafone is no one on unfair balance deduction even they used to make negative balance. I had a Rs. 999 vodafone (Hutch) sim which I had to stop using as the automatically made my balance from +40 rs to -296rs. They were unable to give me the proper reason for deduction. airtel also used to deduct balance but not like vodafone. But coverage wise Vodafone is far ahead than airtel especially in indoor coverage issue and customer care. Till today in… Read more »

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