Telecom companies bid Rs 11,340 crore for expiring spectrum; Airtel leads

Telecom companies bid Rs 11,340 crore for expiring spectrum; Airtel leads


Bharti Airtel Ltd. spent the most on retaining and acquiring new spectrum in the latest auction of airwaves. File

Bharti Airtel Ltd spent the most on retaining and acquiring new spectrum in the latest auction of airwaves. File | Photo credit: Reuters

Bharti Airtel Ltd spent the most on retaining and acquiring new spectrum in the latest auction of airwaves that concluded on Wednesday after seven rounds of bidding. It earned ₹11,340.78 crore from the auction.

Airtel bid a total of ₹6,856.76 crore in the auction, while Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd bid only ₹973.62 crore, while Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) bid ₹3,510.40 crore. This huge difference is mainly due to Airtel's renewal of spectrum expiring this year. Most of the other airwaves remain unsold in 2022.

“Since the auction for 5G spectrum was held recently and 5G monetisation is still ongoing, there were no bids in the 800 MHz, 2300 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz bands,” the telecom department said in a statement. “Of the 533.6 MHz spectrum left over from the 2022 auction, a total of 141.4 MHz (26.5%) was sold,” the government said. The 2022 auction was nine times larger in terms of the amount of spectrum put up for sale.

Bidding took place in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2500 MHz bands; Jio showed modest interest in the auction and bought spectrum worth 14.4 MHz, while VIL bought spectrum worth 30 MHz. The total value of the new spectrum bought by the three telcos was ₹6,164.88 crore.

Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said in a statement that the company is buying airwaves “judiciously” and its acquisition will improve indoor coverage. VIL said, “In addition to renewal of 900 MHz spectrum in UP West and West Bengal circles, [the] The Company has also increased its 900 MHz spectrum holding in 7 circles namely Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Punjab, Rajasthan, UP East and Kolkata, enabling it to dedicate adequate 900 MHz band spectrum for 4G, thereby enhancing its 4G customer experience in these large markets.

VIL said that outside Chennai, the VI network experience will improve in the rest of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, large parts of Karnataka and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

“At these muted participation levels, no adverse impact is expected on the industry balance sheet,” said Ankit Jain, vice president, corporate ratings at ICRA Ltd. “Debt levels which were ₹6.4 lakh crore as of March 31, 2024, are expected to reduce to around ₹6.2-6.3 lakh crore by March 31, 2025, given the expected improvement in profit generation, despite the addition of deferred liabilities.”


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