SPECTRUM AUCTION 2016: Idea Cellular surprises with mega buys in final results

In a surprise development, Idea Cellular made its entry into the world of TDD LTE with its first ever acquisition of unpaired spectrum in the 2016 auctions.

The company had so far confined itself to just one band — paired 1800 MHz.

Unlike paired band (half of upload and half for download), unpaired spectrum delivers more download speeds due to its fungibility and flexibility.

This had given an edge to Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio in the matter of 4G speeds.

However, Idea Cellular said it acquired over half its total spectrum in the two TDD (unpaired) bands of 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz.

It bought a total of 349.2 MHz across circles.

Total expenditure was Rs. 12,798 crores, only a shade less than Bharti Airtel’s.

About 150 MHz was acquired in the form of 2×74.6 MHz spectrum in FDD technology on 1800 and 2100 bands.

The remaining 200 MHz of capacity was purchased in the unpaired TDD bands 2300 and 2500 bands.


All figures as of after 2016 auctions. Bold indicates new purchase.
All figures as of after 2016 auctions. Bold indicates new purchase. Based on estimates, table will be updated as new information becomes available.

Idea can now offer 4G services on its own spectrum across 20 service areas including 9 new service areas of Uttar Pradesh (West), Uttar Pradesh (East), Gujarat, Bihar and Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Mumbai, West Bengal, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir.

Additionally, Idea has also procured 3G spectrum in Bihar & Rajasthan extending its capability to offer 3G services to 15 service areas.

Idea in this auction has expanded its spectrum portfolio by over 64%.

The company has acquired an additional ‘35’ 4G LTE and ‘2’ 3G wireless broadband carriers for new coverage and capacity enhancement, primarily in its leadership markets.

Idea now owns 64 broadband carriers and intends to use 47 of these carriers on 4G LTE technology covering 94% of its revenue base, and 17 carriers for 3G services. Idea broadband coverage will soon be available in all 22 service areas across the country.

Idea through this spectrum auction has strengthened its position in its strong high population leadership markets including Maharashtra and Goa, Uttar Pradesh – West & East, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh & Telangana, HP, Haryana and Punjab.

“This enables Idea to complete its mobile broadband footprint across all 22 licensed service areas in India and also equips the company with substantial capacity spectrum required for meeting data capacity needs for its ever growing 180 million customer base,” the company said.

‘While being prudent in its Spectrum acquisition with less than 1% premium paid over the DoT set reserve price, Idea in this Auction, procures the highest ever, additional 37 Wireless Broadband Carriers reaching capability to use an overall 64 high speed Broadband carriers across bands of 900, 1800, 2100, 2300 and 2500 MHz. We are pleased to share that now Idea is capable of deploying 3 to 7 broadband carriers in each of its 12 Leadership Markets gearing itself to substantially improve customer’s Wireless Data experience and capture higher share of exponentially growing Mobile Data business,” said Himanshu Kapania, Managing Director, Idea Cellular Limited.

In the spectrum auction concluded today, based on the final round provisional results on the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) auction website, Idea Cellular has successfully completed its Pan-India Mobile Broadband footprint and significantly boosted its capacity spectrum portfolio, as it prepares itself for the upcoming Digital age.

Comments Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman Idea Cellular Limited: ‘To fulfil our Prime Minister’s Mr Narendra Modi’s vision of Digital India, Idea in this Auction completes its Pan India Wireless Broadband Footprint. With an aggregate spectrum holding of over 890 MHz (in FDD and TDD technology bands) including acquisition in the current auction of 349.20 MHz, Idea has filled all of its spectrum coverage requirements, while procuring a substantial part of its broadband capacity needs for the next decade. The company will now focus on expanding its Wireless Broadband presence primarily on 4G LTE technology to over a billion Indians while offering World Class high speed Digital Customer experience like never before.’

With this large spectrum quantity procurement and an ongoing expansion of its world class Wireless broadband infrastructure, Idea will now be able to service its over 180 million strong customer base with a full array of Digital services on high-speed broadband platform. These mobile broadband customers will also enjoy the planned new range of Idea branded Digital Content across Movies, Music, TV, Games, News, Digital Wallet, etc. and soon to be launched ABG Payment Bank Services.

UPDATE — So far, the following companies have revealed their purchases.

Bharti Airtel 

Reliance Jio

Idea Cellular

BHARTI 14244
JIO 13672
IDEA 12798
TOTAL 40714