The 800MHz band was the ‘Googly’ of the recently concluded auctions. Before this auction, no other operator had shown interest in bidding for spectrum in this band. The Feb 2012 order in which Supreme Court had quashed 122 newly awarded licences included 21 licences of MTS in 800MHz band. MTS had stayed away from the Nov 2012 auction citing high reserve price of 800MHz band and requested for extension of current licences, even Tata Docomo and Videocon who had submitted applications for participation in 800MHz band in 2012 had withdrawn for the same reason.
In March 2013 MTS was the only participant in the 800MHz auction and won 3.75MHz in 8 circles. MTS was under the impression that if it did not participate for this current auction, the government will be forced to reduce the price of 800MHz spectrum further. But much to the surprise of everyone, Reliance Jio bid aggressively for spectrum in this band and Reliance communications and Tata Docomo also bagged some spectrum in some circles.
Below is the list of operators and the circles in which they won 800MHz along with the quantity won.
|Jammu & Kashmir||5|
|Uttar Pradesh (E)||3.75|
|Jammu & Kashmir||2.5|
|Uttar Pradesh (W)||1.25|
|Tata Teleservices||Andhra Pradesh||3.75|
Reliance Jio has bagged contiguous blocks of 5 MHz in 9 circles and 3.75 MHz in one circle. The new 800MHz holding along with the existing and new 1800MHz acquisition will give Jio a coverage in 20 of the 22 telecom circles to augment its pan India 2300MHz holding which faces coverage issues. The newly won 800MHz spectrum by Rcom ensures that it has at least 5MHz of spectrum in each of the 22 circles in this band which will enable it to expand its Pro3 Rev.B footprint and launch FD-LTE in the future. Tata Teleservices also bought top up spectrum in the circles where their 800MHz licences will be expiring in 2018, to secure the continuity of their operations in these circles. MTS has now declared that they will look forward to the yet to be announced spectrum trading and sharing guidelines to decide the further course of expansion to pan India level.
Esmail is our very own in-house spectrum specialist. He is passionate about Telecom, DTH and OTT video streaming apps. When not writing an article, you can find him binge watching shows on Netflix while sipping on a cup of coffee.