Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal

Bharti Airtel said it has agreed to buy 4G spectrum from Tikona Digital Networks in five telecom circles, giving the company a pan-India footprint in the crucial capacity band and helping it compete on an even footing with Reliance Jio.

Airtel plans to roll-out high speed 4G services on the newly acquired spectrum in the five circles immediately after the closure of the transaction, the company said.

The Gurgaon-based company did not specify financial details of the transaction. Tikona paid about Rs 1,060 cr for the spectrum seven years ago. The spectrum has a life of another 13 years before it expires.

Tikona had acquired the spectrum in 2010 in the first wireless broadband spectrum auction, but has has limited success in monetizing it.

The deal involves the takeover of 350 cell sites as well.

Tikona has 20 MHz spectrum in the 2300 MHz band in Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West), Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh circles.

As per the agreement, the acquisition of the 4G business in Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Himachal Pradesh will be undertaken by Airtel, while in the Rajasthan circle, it will be accomplished through Airtel’s subsidiary Bharti Hexacom Limited.

In Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, Airtel will now have 30 MHz of spectrum in 2.3 GHz band, taking the number of such circles to 13.

Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said, “Airtel’s continued focus on strengthening its 4G capabilities across multiple spectrum bands will be complemented with the BWA spectrum acquisition from Tikona.”

The 2.3 GHz spectrum in the main capacity spectrum used by Jio and Bharti Airtel.

Idea Cellular-Vodafone and BSNL will use the adjacent 2.5 GHz band.

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