Thursday, 27 April 2017

Bharti Airtel bolsters 4G footprint with INR16bn Tikona buy

By Nick Wood, Total Telecom
Friday 24 March 17

Deal completes Indian operator's nationwide 2.3-GHz spectrum holdings.

Bharti Airtel this week bolstered its spectrum holdings by agreeing to acquire Tikona Digital Networks' 4G business for 16 billion rupees (€226.47 million). Tikona holds 20 MHz of 2.3-GHz Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum in five telecom circles…

Bharti Airtel this week bolstered its spectrum holdings by agreeing to acquire Tikona Digital Networks' 4G business for 16 billion rupees (€226.47 million).

Tikona holds 20 MHz of 2.3-GHz Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum in five telecom circles: Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (UP) East, UP West, Rajasthan, and Himachal Pradesh. It owns 350 sites, and offers fixed-wireless broadband services.

The frequencies in UP East, UP West and Rajasthan will enable Airtel to complete its pan-India 2.3-GHz footprint, while its existing 2.3-GHz holdings in Gujurat and Himachal Pradesh will increase to 30 MHz.

"Airtel's continued focus on strengthening its 4G capabilities across multiple spectrum bands will be complemented with the BWA spectrum acquisition from Tikona," said Gopal Vittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel's India and South Asia business, in a statement on Thursday.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, and is expected to close in the next 60 days.

Upon completion, Bharti Airtel will hold 30 MHz of 2.3-GHz spectrum in 13 circles, which it said in a stock exchange filing will give it "a tremendous advantage to cater to the surging data demand."

Thursday's deal is just the latest in a string of mergers and acquisitions that have been announced since Reliance Jio Infocomm shook up the market with the launch of free nationwide voice and data services in September last year.

As well as Tikona, Bharti Airtel has also agreed a deal to acquire Telenor's Indian business; Reliance Communications and Aircel are well on their way to combining their mobile businesses into a joint venture; Vodafone India and Idea Cellular also recently agreed to establish a $23 billion mobile JV; and reports claim that a merger between state-run operators BSNL and MTNL could be back on the cards.

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