The 900MHz band was the centre of all action and the waterloo of the incumbent operators. It was this band that is responsible for adding the maximum amount of money in the government’s kitty in the recently concluded auction. The 4 operators Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Rcom had licences in many of their existing operational circles coming up for renewal in 2015 and 2016 and in many of those circles the operators did not have sufficient fall-back spectrum in 1800MHz band.
This would mean they would be forced to shut down 2G operations in those circles where they would fail to retain their existing spectrum. Reliance Jio took full advantage of this plight of the incumbents by bidding fiercely to push up the winning price per block in this premium band and then pull out mid-way so as to increase the pay-out of the incumbents. Below is the list of operators and the circles in which they won 900MHz spectrum along with the quantity won.
|Bharti Airtel||Andhra Pradesh||9|
|Uttar Pradesh (E)||5.6|
|Idea Cellular||Andhra Pradesh||5|
|Uttar Pradesh (W)||5|
|Reliance communications||Himachal Pradesh||5|
Bharti Airtel managed to win back spectrum in all 6 circles where its 900MHz licences were coming up for renewal along with 4 new circles where it added fresh 900MHz spectrum. Vodafone India won back its 900MHz spectrum in the 6 circles where it is expiring and added fresh spectrum in 2 new circles of Odisha and West Bengal. Idea cellular won back its 900MHz spectrum in all 9 circles where it is expiring. Reliance communications could only retain spectrum in 900MHz band in Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh circles also it managed to get fall-back spectrum in 1800MHz in North East and Odisha circles. This means Rcom may have to shut down 2G operations in Assam, Bihar and West Bengal circles where they couldn’t win back spectrum in 900MHz nor get fresh spectrum in 1800MHz.
Also read: 2100MHz band final list of winning operators
Also read: Provisional results of the spectrum auction
Rcom has sufficient spectrum in 2100MHz and 800MHz bands in these 3 circles but those are used for 3G and CDMA services respectively and do not have an ecosystem for 2G GSM services.