Bharti Airtel drops $240m on Tikona to get pan-India 4G footprint

The Indian telecoms arms race continues with current number one MNO Bharti Airtel set to acquire Tikona Digital Networks and with it a bunch of 2,300 MHz spectrum.

The purchase price is in the region of 1,600 crore (16 billion) rupees, which translates to around $240 million. For that Bharti gets 20 MHz of spectrum in the 2,300 MHz band in the Gujarat, UP East, UP West, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh circles. This in turn, says Bharti, will give it a pan-India mobile broadband footprint, with 30 MHz of 2,300 in 13 circles.

“Airtel’s continued focus on strengthening its 4G capabilities across multiple spectrum bands will be complemented with the broadband wireless access spectrum acquisition from Tikona,” Said Gopal Vittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel India. “We believe that combining our capacities in TD-LTE and FD-LTE will further bolster our network, and help us provide unmatched high-speed wireless broadband experience to our customers.”

As ever this deal will be subject to regulatory scrutiny but it would be odd for Indian regulators to obstruct telecoms consolidation, having done so much to bring the situation about by giving Reliance Jio such a free rein. Bharti has also recently moved for Telenor India.

The Indian telecoms market is highly fragmented, often on a regional basis. But part of Jio’s strategy is to be a pan-national provider and this move by Bharti seems designed to ensure it can claim the same. Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have already decided to join forces and consolidation is expected to continue and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the country end up with the magic number of four large operators.

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