Bharti Airtel is increasingly on a war footing against Reliance Jio, and it especially holds true after the telecom giant, the largest telco in the country, acquired Tikona Networks. Tikona Networks held valuable 20 MHz of 4G spectrum across five circles. Airtel acquired the Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum across all five of the circles for Rs 1600 crores.
The move is being seen by tech analysts and market observers as Bharti Airtel’s attempt to stop the Reliance Jio juggernaut. Airtel had acquired the Norwegian telco Telenor’s Indian operations earlier. Not only Airtel, even other telcos like Idea cellular and Vodafone India have joined hands in order to survive. The two companies merged to create India’s biggest telecom operator. Bharti Airtel is under pressure on two fronts.
Tikona currently boasts of 20 MHz spectrum in the 2300 MHz band in the states of Gujarat, UP (East and West), Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan. The renewed focus by various telcos only goes to prove that the Indian 4G markets on the verge of a watershed moment. Data hungry customers have often lamented the absence of a reliable 4G service in the country. With more emphasis laid on hardware, as the Tikona acquisition suggests, the services are set to improve. Moreover, many experts have also warned of the perils of focusing too much on the next-generation 5G operations before 4G is a success. Many people in India still use 3G services.
After the Tikona acquisition, Airtel‘s combined spectrum holding in the five circles still falls short of spectrum caps as prescribed by the Government. Clearly, this shows that Airtel is on a shopping spree as it ramps up one acquisition after another.This buy will also help Airtel fill the gaps it earlier had in the states of Rajasthan and UP in the 2300 MHz band.
After Reliance Jio‘s entry last September, the data wars in the domestic telecom circles have intensified. Mergers and acquisitions and consolidation are the need of the hour. Since 4G data users consume around 4 to 6 times more data than 3G users, the focus on network hardware is welcome.