Airtel may buy Aircel's 4G spectrum for Rs3,000 cr

Bharti Airtel is reported to be close to buying 4G airwaves from Aircel for approximately Rs3,800 crore as it looks to strengthen its high-speed broadband spectrum holdings to prepare for an imminent clash over data services with Reliance Jio Infocomm.

The Economic Times reported that the deal to buy Aircel's 4G spectrum in the 2300 MHz frequency band in eight circles is expected to be finalised by the end of March. If this deal goes through, it will extend Bharti Airtel's 4G footprint across bands to 18 circles from 15. The 2300 MHz airwaves that Airtel and Aircel have do not overlap in any service area, according to the report.

Sources also revealed to the paper that both companies are eager to close the deal as quickly as possible. Bharti Airtel has been aggressively pushing to acquire the 4G spectrum and has invested in buying Qualcomm's airwaves in four circles, and also purchased Auguere Wireless that owned 4G airwaves in the Chattisgarh-Madhya Pradesh circle.

Last year, Bharti Airtel had announced that it had acquired 111.6 MHz of prime spectrum across 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands for a total consideration of Rs29,130 crore in the spectrum auction conducted by the government of India. Of this, Rs17,618 crore had been spent on the renewal of existing spectrum while the balance Rs11,512 crore had been spent on procuring new spectrum.

The company had successfully renewed all its spectrum holdings in the 900 MHz band in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and North East circles. It had also acquired additional spectrum in the 900 MHz band in key leadership circles of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, North East, Assam, Bihar and Orissa.

Bharti Airtel had also acquired 1800 MHz spectrum across Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Kolkata, Orissa, Haryana and North East. It added to its spectrum holding in the 2100 MHz band by acquiring fresh spectrum in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh (East), Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Tamil Nadu circles.

Bharti Airtel offers pan India 4G services using a combination of FD-LTE technology in the 1800 MHz band and TD-LTE roll-out in the 2300 MHz band.