ASIA-PA­CIFIC

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In­dia’s lat­est spec­trum auc­tion raised more than $10 bil­lion in bids – with more than three quar­ters of that com­ing on its first day. Vodafone splashed the most cash on ad­di­tional band­width, land­ing spec­trum across all of its key cir­cles – mar­ket ar­eas – with a to­tal spend sur­pass­ing $3 bil­lion over the five day of bids.

Vodafone In­dia bought a to­tal of 2 × 82.6MHZ FDD and 200MHZ TDD spec­trum in the auc­tion, giv­ing it multi-band 4G ca­pa­bil­ity op­er­at­ing across the 1800, 2100 and 2500MHZ bands. It now has 4G ca­pa­bil­ity in 17 cir­cles.

Mar­ket leader Bharti Air­tel ac­quired 173.8MHZ of spec­trum across the 1,800, 2100 and 2300MHZ bands, spend­ing $2.13 bil­lion on bids. Idea Cel­lu­lar, which is third in the mar­ket, also spent big, with bids of $1.92 bil­lion.

Re­liance Jio In­fo­comm, which re­cently launched 4G ser­vices, spent $2.05 bil­lion. With that, it ac­quired the rights to use 269.2MHZ of spec­trum across all 22 ser­vice ar­eas.

“We have ex­panded our spec­trum foot­print thereby sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanc­ing ca­pac­ity of our all-ip data strong net­work and en­sur­ing world class ser­vices for all In­di­ans. Jio is com­mit­ted to tak­ing In­dia to global dig­i­tal lead­er­ship by bring­ing the power of data to all In­di­ans,” said Jio founder Mukesh Am­bani.

Al­to­gether, seven car­ri­ers par­tic­i­pated in the auc­tion, ac­cord­ing to the In­dian govern­ment, al­though the likes of Re­liance Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Tata Te­le­ser­vices made de­ci­sions not to spend mas­sive sums.

No­tably, all seven bid­ders chose to shun the most ex­pen­sive spec­trum bands on of­fer, with an­a­lysts claim­ing the govern­ment over­priced the 700MHZ band.

Car­ri­ers in­stead opted to buy spec­trum across the 1800 and 2300MHZ bands, in what turned out to be In­dia’s largest ever spec­trum auc­tion.

The In­dian govern­ment was of­fer­ing spec­trum across seven bands (700MHZ, 900MHZ, 1800MHZ, 2100MHZ, 2300MHZ and 2500MHZ) but came un­der fire for pric­ing the pre­mium 700MHZ band­width too highly. De­spite be­ing bet­ter for trav­el­ling through walls, the lower fre­quen­cies re­ceived less bids than the higher ones. This meant that the car­ri­ers bid for less than half of the spec­trum that was on of­fer, al­though the In­dian govern­ment is ex­pected to hold more rounds of bid­ding. It is hop­ing to raise $84 bil­lion from the band­width auc­tion al­to­gether.

“In fact, the fi­nan­cial strain on the in­dus­try and a high re­serve price are the ma­jor rea­sons why the 700MHZ band did not at­tract bid­ders,” Ra­jan Mathews, di­rec­tor gen­eral of in­dus­try lobby group the Cel­lu­lar Op­er­a­tors As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia (COAI) was re­ported as say­ing.

“On many an oc­ca­sion, COAI has raised the is­sue of the high re­serve price on the band, and how this could af­fect in­vestor in­ter­est dur­ing the auc­tion.”

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