Bharti Airtel To Sell ‘Unutilized’ 800 MHz Spectrum To Reliance Jio


By Catherine Sbeglia

Bharti Airtel signed a trading deal to sell 800 MHz spectrum in Andhra Pradesh (3.75 MHz), Delhi (1.25 MHz) and Mumbai (2.50 MHz) to rival Reliance Jio Infocomm.

Bharti Airtel’s CEO Gopal Vittal explained that the sale will allow the company to “unlock value from spectrum that was unutilized,” adding that the move aligns with the company’s “overall network strategy.”

The spectrum in question was obtained by Airtel as part of a merger with Tata Group’s consumer mobility business that received final approval last year, in which the carrier acquired airwaves in 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz and 800 MHz bands. However, because Airtel has built its sub-GHz network around the 900 MHz band, the 800 MHz band has not been of much use.

“Integrating spectrum from the adjacent 800 MHz in the said circles could lead to interference in the network,” a company official told ET Telecom.

According to a statement released by Airtel, the carrier will receive a consideration of Rs 1,037.6 crore from Jio for the proposed transfer, and further, Jio will assume future liabilities of Rs 459 crore relating to the spectrum.

At India’s March spectrum auction, Jio proved to be the biggest spender, acquiring spectrum in 800 MHz, 1,800 MHz and 2,300 MHz bands. Now, with this trading agreement, the carrier stated that it will have ‘2X15MHz’ of spectrum in the 800MHz band in Mumbai circle and ‘2X10MHz’ of spectrum in the 800MHz band in Andhra Pradesh and Delhi circles.

“With the enhanced spectrum footprint, especially contiguous spectrum, and superior infrastructure deployed, RJIL has further increased its network capacity,” the company said in a statement.

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