India’s spectrum auction has raised INR611.62 billion (USD9.86 billion) for state coffers after ten days of bidding as incumbents sought to retain their 900MHz band frequencies in the metro operating circles, whilst fighting with newer providers for 1800MHz spectrum across all 22 areas. Newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm bid aggressively for spectrum in the 900MHz band and although it failed to acquire any airwaves in that range, it succeeded in driving up the sale price for Vodafone and Bharti Airtel, which were obliged to buy frequencies to ensure the continuation of services when their existing concessions expire in November. Airtel spent INR185.3 billion on the auction, securing 900MHz frequencies in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai as well as 1800MHz in 15 circles, which the cellco says it will use to expand its 4G network across India. Vodafone meanwhile spent INR196 billion to win 900MHz frequencies in the three metro areas and 1800MHz spectrum in eleven circles. Idea Cellular was the only other operator to purchase 900MHz band spectrum, winning frequencies in that band in the Delhi circle. The cellco also won 1800MHz-band frequencies in eleven other areas.
Whilst Jio failed to acquire any spectrum in the 900MHz band, the controversial new arrival, which already own rights to pan-India 4G frequencies, walked away from the contest with 1800MHz concessions in 14 areas. Other successful bidders included Norwegian-backed cellco Uninor, which won airwaves in Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Bihar, whilst Aircel was awarded 1800MHz spectrum in Jammu & Kashmir, North East, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh East and West Bengal. Finally, Reliance Communications (RCOM) bid successfully for 1800MHz frequencies in the Mumbai area.