Spectrum auction 2016 aftermath- Who paid what to stay relevant where?

By October 9th, 2016 AT 5:00 AM

So the largest ever spectrum auction which had been the talk of the town concluded on Thursday, with the government being assured Rs.65,789 crore in revenue. Of the 2,355 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum put up for sale across seven bands, only 965 MHz or around 40% got sold. The much awaited auction saw just 31 rounds of bidding and concluded on the fifth day. We’ve updated our Pan India spectrum holding chart with the results of the October 2016 spectrum auction, which you can refer to for details.


So from Rcom losing its 2G spectrum in Gujarat circle to Tata coughing up a fortune to retain its own in Mumbai, we’ve witnessed it all. The purpose of this article is to outline which operator spent how much money in which circle to stay relevant in the ever increasing competition in the telecom sector. Let us first consider each band that was put up for sale individually.

700 (Band 28) and 900 MHz (Band 8) remained unsold :

The 700 MHz spectrum which the government made free after cable TV digitization, found no takers on account of its high base price. There was also no bidding for spectrum in the 900 Mhz band as the incumbents had already gathered enough spectrum in this band in the previous two auctions. The 700 MHz band itself was expected to go for a total of Rs 4 lakh crore had the entire amount that was put for sale been sold at floor price.

850 Mhz ( Band 5 ) :

In 850MHz band, 15MHz got sold out of the total 73.75 MHz put up for auction. Reliance Jio was the only operator which won airwaves in this band in four circles. Given below is the chart of the spectrum won in 850 MHz band along with the winning bid value.

Circle Operator Spectrum Winning Price
Gujarat Jio 5 Mhz 1677.24 cr
Punjab Jio 3.75 Mhz 512.58 cr
Rajasthan Jio 5 Mhz 1159.92 cr
UP East Jio 1.25 Mhz 289.98 cr

1800 Mhz ( Band 3 ) :

In 1800 MHz frequency band, 175 MHz out of the total 221 MHz put up for sale was sold. Mainly operators bought spectrum in this band to deploy 4G networks. Airtel bought the spectrum in 8 circles, Vodafone in 11 circles, Idea Cellular in 12 circles while new entrant Jio picked the airwaves in 8 circles. While Tata ended up spending a fortune in a bargain to retain its 2G operations in Mumbai, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh circles. Given below is the chart of the spectrum won in 1800 MHz band along with the winning bid value.

Circle Operator Spectrum Winning Price
Andhra Pradesh Tata 2.4 Mhz 583.2 cr


Airtel 3.8 Mhz 152 cr
Idea 5 Mhz 200 cr
Vodafone 8 Mhz 320 cr


Aircel 1.8 Mhz 111.6 cr
Idea 5 Mhz 310 cr
Jio 5 Mhz 310 cr
Delhi Vodafone 2 Mhz 798 cr
Gujarat Idea 8.4 Mhz 1999.2 cr
Vodafone 3 Mhz 714 cr


Airtel 1.6 Mhz 79.88 cr
Idea 4.8 Mhz 236.64 cr
Jio 1 Mhz 49.3 cr
Himachal Pradesh Idea 0.6 Mhz 9.6 cr
Jio 5 Mhz 80 cr

Jammu & Kashmir

Airtel 2.4 Mhz 31.2 cr
Idea 5 Mhz 65 cr
RCom 5 Mhz 65 cr
Jio 10 Mhz 130 cr
Kerala Vodafone 0.6 Mhz 49.8 cr
Kolkata Airtel 2 Mhz 302.3 cr
Vodafone 2 Mhz 302.3 cr
Madhya Pradesh Idea 4.6 MHz 381.3 cr


Airtel 5 Mhz 1590 cr
Idea 2 Mhz 636 cr
Tata 5 Mhz 1590 cr
Mumbai Tata 5 Mhz 2446 cr
North East Airtel 1.4 Mhz 15.4 cr
Vodafone 7.8 Mhz 85.8 cr


Airtel 0.8 Mhz 61.6 cr
Idea 2 Mhz 154 cr
Jio 5.2 Mhz 400.4 cr
Vodafone 3 Mhz 231 cr


Airtel 1.8 Mhz 165.42 cr
Idea 5 Mhz 459.5 cr
Vodafone 4.2 Mhz 358.98 cr
UP East Jio 3.4 MHz 452.71 cr
Vodafone 2 Mhz 266.3 cr

UP West

Idea 7.2 Mhz 722.16 cr
Jio 5 Mhz 501.5 cr
Vodafone 2.4 Mhz 240.72 cr

West Bengal

Idea 5 Mhz 230 cr
Jio 5 Mhz 230 cr
Vodafone 7.6 Mhz 349.6 cr

2100 Mhz ( Band 1 ) :

In the 2100MHz band, 85 MHz out of 365 MHz put up for sale was sold. Airtel won spectrum in 5 circles including Kerala circle making it the first operator to achieve pan India 3G spectrum footprint. Vodafone picked the airwaves in 7 circles including 10 Mhz of spectrum in Tamilnadu, hinting that it might use it for FD-LTE. Third largest operator Idea Cellular won similar airwaves in 4 circles. Given below is the chart of the spectrum won in 2100 MHz band along with the winning bid value.

Circle Operator Spectrum Winning Price
Bihar Airtel 5 Mhz 430 cr
Idea 5 Mhz 430 cr
Delhi Airtel 5 Mhz 2770 cr
Haryana Vodafone 5 Mhz 275 cr
Jammu & Kashmir Airtel 5 Mhz 55 cr
Kerala Airtel 5 Mhz 885 cr
Maharashtra Vodafone 5 Mhz 1705 cr
Mumbai Idea 5 Mhz 2305 cr
Odisha Vodafone 5 Mhz 190 cr
Punjab Vodafone 5 Mhz 455 cr
Rajasthan Airtel 5 Mhz 700 cr
Idea 5 Mhz 700 cr
Vodafone 5 Mhz 700 cr
Tamil Nadu Vodafone 10 Mhz 3440 cr
UP East Idea 5 Mhz 550 cr
Vodafone 5 Mhz 550 cr

2300 Mhz ( Band 40 ) :

In 2300MHz band the entire 320 MHz that had been put on the block got sold. Pureplay 4G operator Jio added 10 Mhz of spectrum in 16 circles to augment its capacity and bring LTE Advanced networks in future. Market leader Airtel also bagged 10 Mhz in 13 circles. Birla owned Idea too added spectrum in their three key leadership markets of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Given below is the chart of the spectrum won in 2300 MHz band along with the winning bid value.

Circle Operator Spectrum Winning Price
Andhra Pradesh Airtel 10 MHz 683.4 cr
Jio 10 MHz 683.4 cr
Assam Airtel 10 MHz 20 cr
Jio 10 MHz 20 cr
Bihar Airtel 10 MHz 61.5 cr
Jio 10 MHz 61.5 cr
Delhi Airtel 10 MHz 1430 cr
Jio 10 MHz 1430 cr
Gujarat Airtel 10 MHz 611.88 cr
Jio 10 MHz 611.88 cr
Himachal Pradesh Airtel 10 MHz 10 cr
Jio 10 MHz 10 cr
Karnataka Airtel 10 MHz 980 cr
Jio 10 MHz 980 cr
Kerala Idea 10 MHz 175.67 cr
Jio 10 MHz 175.67 cr
Kolkata Airtel 10 MHz 330 cr
Jio 10 MHz 330 cr
Madhya Pradesh Idea 10 MHz 82 cr
Jio 10 MHz 82 cr
Maharashtra Idea 10 MHz 630.61 cr
Jio 10 MHz 630.61 cr
Mumbai Airtel 10 MHz 1460 cr
Jio 10 MHz 1460 cr
North East Airtel 10 MHz 10 cr
Jio 10 MHz 10 cr
Odisha Airtel 10 MHz 40 cr
Jio 10 MHz 40 cr
Tamil Nadu Airtel 10 MHz 1320 cr
Jio 10 MHz 1320 cr
West Bengal Airtel 10 MHz 50 cr
Jio 10 MHz 50 cr

2500 MHz ( Band 41 ) :

In the 2500MHz band, 370 MHz out of 600MHz that had been put up for sale was sold. Idea Cellular picked airwaves in 16 circles while Vodafone bought the spectrum in 15 circles. Both operators plan to expand 4G LTE network in the coming months across the country. Given below is the chart of the spectrum won in 2500 MHz band along with the winning bid value.

Circle Operator Spectrum Winning Price
Andhra Pradesh Idea 10 Mhz 680 cr
Assam Idea 10 Mhz 20 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 20 cr
Bihar Idea 10 Mhz 60 cr
Delhi Vodafone 20 Mhz 2860 cr
Gujarat Idea 10 Mhz 390 cr
Vodafone 20 Mhz 780 cr
Haryana Idea 10 Mhz 80 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 80 cr
Himachal Pradesh Idea 10 Mhz 10 cr
Jammu and Kashmir Idea 10 Mhz 10 cr
Kerala Idea 10 Mhz 160.8 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 160.8 cr
Kolkata Vodafone 20 Mhz 660 cr
Madhya Pradesh Idea 20 Mhz 160 cr
Maharashtra Idea 10 Mhz 580 cr
Vodafone 20 Mhz 1160 cr
Mumbai Vodafone 20 Mhz 3380 cr
North East Idea 10 Mhz 10 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 10 cr
Odisha Idea 10 Mhz 40 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 40 cr
Punjab Vodafone 10 Mhz 210 cr
Rajasthan Idea 10 Mhz 60 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 60 cr
UP East Idea 10 Mhz 90 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 90 cr
UP West Idea 10 Mhz 120 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 120 cr
West Bengal Idea 10 Mhz 50 cr
Vodafone 10 Mhz 50 cr


So, what are the final damages to the operators’ balance sheets post the auction?

  •  Vodafone acquired 365.2 Mhz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2500 Mhz bands for a total worth of Rs. 20,280 crore.
  • Airtel acquired 173.8 Mhz of spectrum across the 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz bands for a total amount of Rs. 14,244 crore.
  • Jio acquired 269.2 MHz of spectrum across the 850 MHz, 1800 MHz and the 2300 MHz band, paying a total value of Rs. 13,672 crore.
  • Idea acquired 349.2 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 Mhz bands for a total of Rs. 12,798 crore.
  • Tata acquired 24.8 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band for a total cost of Rs. 4,619 crore.
  • Reliance acquired 10 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band for a total expenditure of Rs. 65 crore.
  • Aircel acquired 3.6 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz band for a total price of  Rs. 112 crore.

Note: For calculating the total quantum of spectrum purchased by each operator, the uplink and downlink portions of paired spectrum have been added while the unpaired spectrum has been considered as is.


TT perspective:Although the government expected a huge revenue from the auction, due to high base price and immature device ecosystem, operators skipped 700 MHz band and filled in the gaps in their data spectrum portfolio by acquiring cheaper airwaves in 2300 and 2500 Mhz bands. While 3G is dying and operators are betting big on 4G thanks to Jio’s arrival in the market, we expect Idea and Vodafone to soon expand their 4G data network footprint.On the other hand, Airtel which now has Pan India 3G and 4G spectrum will focus on dual technology to meet data demand across the metro and rural markets. Jio currently seems to be best placed with the right mix of low frequency 850 MHz spectrum for coverage and high frequency 1800 and 2300 MHz airwaves for capacity. Also the cash rich backing of Reliance industries will ensure that the operator is able to invest on network infrastructure and expansion despite the auction expenditure.

Leave a Reply

Photo and Image Files
29 Comment threads
36 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
37 Comment authors
PraveensuvraSrinivasEsmailKaushik Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Vodafone may lost their Susbcribers , due to lack of 3G network in AndhraPradesh. Try to Start Own 3G Network atleast from 2017 onwards.


Vodafone has very bad service in Andhra

Anil Kumar Vaishnav
Anil Kumar Vaishnav

Rajasthan 4g:-
Rcom{aircel and mts after merger}- band 3,5,40{using jio network}
Jio-band 3,5,40
Vodafone-band 3, 41
Idea- band 3, 41
Tikona-band 40{still no idea idea what they gonna do with specturm, better they merge with telenor and telenor come to rajasthan as 4g only network.}

Tata is willing to revive it’s telecom business, hope the ntt docomo attribution happen soon and tata, telenor and tikona join hand to provide quality service. Telenor and tikona needs tata’s fiber base to survive in India.


RCom isn’t really “using jio network”. They share some spectrum and passive infrastructure, some components being shared does not mean that the network is shared. RCom customers don’t “roam” on Jio network per se, the BTS are different, to give you an example.

Recent Posts

Trai Could Bring Variable NCF For Subscribers to Make DTH and Cable TV Connection More Affordable

There have been a lot of ups and downs in the DTH industry since the start of this year, most...

Vivo Y19 Mid-Range Smartphone With Helio P65, 5000mAh Battery Launches in India for Rs 13,990

Vivo Y19 is the latest smartphone under the Vivo Y series to launch in India. The Y19 has been launched...

Airtel Broadband Rs 999 Plan Can Be Worth the Extra Spend Against JioFiber Silver Plan

If the subscribers of broadband services are asked about some of the most popular plans and service providers out there,...