India wraps up USD17.5bn auction

27 Mar 2015

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has revealed the provisional results of its spectrum auction for frequencies in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands, confirming that the government stands to net INR1.099 trillion (USD17.49 billion) from the sale. Bidding from the three largest players in the market, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular made up more than three quarters of the bidding value, as the trio sought to win back expiring concessions in key areas and under pressure from newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL). Idea Cellular walked away from the tender with the largest bill and is to pay out INR303.06 billion for 900MHz frequencies in nine areas and 2100MHz spectrum in one circle, Kolkata. Market leader Airtel won back spectrum in the six circles where its concessions were expiring, and expanded its 3G footprint with 2100MHz spectrum in seven circles, costing the cellco INR293.01 billion. Vodafone, meanwhile, is to fork out INR259.59 billion for its seven 900MHz renewals and 2100MHz frequencies in six circles.

Reliance Communications (RCOM) had less success, however, losing its 900MHz spectrum holdings in five circles – Assam, Bihar, North East, Orissa, and West Bengal – to its rivals, keeping hold of just Madhya Pradesh and Himachacl Pradesh. Nevertheless, RCOM won 800MHz spectrum in eleven circles, and 1800MHz frequencies in five, paying out a total of INR42.99 billion. Elsewhere, despite its bluster in putting down the largest earnest money deposit (EMD) in the lead up to the auction, RJIL failed to acquire any 900MHz airwaves, although the newcomer is understood to have driven up the costs for its entrenched rivals by bidding aggressively for the frequencies. RJIL did not walk away empty handed, however, and added to its spectrum holdings with 1800MHz frequencies in six circles and 800MHz airwaves in ten areas for a total cost of INR100.77 billion. Aircel and Tata Teleservices (TTSL) also won spectrum, but their bidding had been restrained by the DoT as the pair failed to meet the financial requirements for bidding for airwaves in new circles. Aircel shelled out INR22.5 billion for 1800MHz frequencies in the Tamil Nadu circle, whilst TTSL purchased 800MHz spectrum in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana and 1800MHz band frequencies in Andhra Pradesh for a total of INR78.51 billion.