Airtel consolidates in sub GHz spectrum at auction, even as bidders shun 700 MHz

Day 1 of Indian  telecom spectrum auction

New Delhi, March 2, 2021: Bharti Airtel has acquired 355.45 MHz spectrum across Sub GHz, mid band and 2300 MHz bands for a total consideration of Rs 18,699 crores in the  spectrum auction conducted by the Indian goverenment’s Department of Telecommunications, today.

Airtel has now secured Pan India foot print of Sub GHz spectrum that will help improve its deep indoor and in building coverage in every urban town. In addition, this will also help improve its coverage in villages by offering the superior Airtel experience to an additional 90 million customers in India. Through this auction, Airtel has strengthened its mid band and capacity spectrum holdings that will help it provide an  good customer experience at marginal capex.  All of the spectrum will enable Airtel to deliver 5G services in future.

Says Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel: “ Airtel now has a solid spectrum portfolio that will enable it to continue delivering the best mobile broadband experience in India. We are most excited at bringing the power of Airtel services to an additional 90 million customers in India through the power of our Pan India Sub GHz footprint.”

Despite the large amount of spectrum made available, the 700 MHz band bands did not get any bid from the operators as it made no economic case for them based on the high reserve prices. The 700 MHz band coupled with the 3.5 GHz band has the potential  to accelerate India's progress to the top league of digitally enabled nations. But  the reserve pricing of these bands  is making it unattractive for bidders.