The Big 3 of Indian Telecom – Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular abide by the tested strategy of maintaining / increasing the 900 MHz portfolio along with increasing 3G/4G FDD footprint. Incumbents A-Vo-Id Group put their strategy as to what their Revenue Model Says – Voice to 3G Mobile Data Transition first and then lets think of disruption by 4G LTE technologies. Challengers led by Reliance Jio Infocomm opted for 800/1800 FDD future technology as I had already predicted much before the Auctions.
Airtel in addition to retaining its 900 MHz in six circles has bought 52% more spectrum, largely from Reliance Communications in Class C circles and partly from Idea. It has significantly increased its footprint in 3G, buying spectrum in seven circles. Airtel now has pan-India pseudo-3G presence (either by 900Mhz liberalized or 2100Mhz spectrum) except Kerala. It has also increased its 1800 2G spectrum.
Vodafone’s strategy was similar to Airtel’s – it maintained 900 MHz renewal spectrum in six circles and increased its footprint in one circle from RCOM. Vodafone has bought 2100 MHz spectrum in six circles, thus increasing its presence to 15 circles from nine.
Idea Cellular has retained its 900 MHz spectrum in nine circles that were up for renewal, largely 5 MHz across circles, partly augmenting its portfolio in Maharastra and MP, where it has higher revenue market shares (32% and 38%, respectively). Idea has also increased its 1800 MHz portfolio in six circles, of which two are for 4G FDD.
Reliance Communications let go 900 MHz spectrum in five of seven circles up for renewal and shifted focus to 800Mhz spectrum. Reliance Jio Infocomm as predicted by us bid for 800/1800 MHz FDD future technologies. It has spent 9% of the overall spectrum amount, buying 18% of the spectrum put to auction. Tata Teleservices also bid for 800/1800 MHz very selectively sending feelers that it is looking forward to exit the business.
Update: You can view Historical Telecom Spectrum Auction Results between 2010 to 2015 here.