Bharti Airtel will pay Aircel Rs 3,500 crore to access the latter’s 4G spectrum in eight telecom circles, which will enable the Sunil Bharti Mittal-run telco to become a pan-India operator that will provide high-speed mobile data services.
Airtel and its subsidiary Bharti Hexacom Limited have entered into a definitive agreement with Aircel and its subsidiaries Dishnet Wireless Limited and Aircel Cellular Limited to acquire rights to use 20 megahertz (MHz)in 2,300 band 4G TD spectrum in the eight circles, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange on Friday.
These circles are Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam, the North-East, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The deal comes within days of Airtel buying radio waves from Videocon Telecommunication for six regions for Rs 4,428 crore.
Spectrum held by Aircel and Dishnet is valid up to September 20, 2030. The company had bought the spectrum for Rs 3,438 crore, which means that the Airtel deal will enable it to recover the cost. In the Videocon deal, Airtel had got rights to use 1,800 MHz band spectrum in Bihar, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh East and West as well as Gujarat under a licence that expires on 2032.
Telecom operators are consolidating their positions by loading up on spectrum ahead of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio’s 4G services this year. This is the third acquisition in the telecom sector after the government allowed trading of radio waves in October. Reliance Jio and Anil Ambani controlled Reliance Communications had also signed a spectrum sharing and trading pact across 17 wireless areas in the 800 MHz band in January. With Friday’s acquisition, Airtel will become a pan-India 4G operator, the company said in a stock exchange filing.