S Tel wins 3G spectrum in India

The Indian government’s department of telecommunications announced the results of the country’s 3G auction in May amid criticism that the process had led to unjustifiably high prices for the licenses.

The final prices meant that the 34-day auction raised more than double the amount the Indian government had originally expected.

Seven of nine bidding companies gained 3G licenses, although no company gained full pan-India spectrum.

The country’s leading mobile operators, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Aircel acquired spectrum in 13 circles, at a cost of $2.66 billion, $1.83 billion and $1.38 billion respectively. Idea Cellular gained eleven circles for $1.22 billion.

Bahrain’s Batelco Group achieved a victory in India last month when its Indian affiliate S Tel secured 3G spectrum for its operations in Orissa, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh.

S Tel, which is 42.7% owned by Baltelco Group, will pay $76 million for the spectrum, covering three circles.

The company will compete against operators including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Telecom and Aircel in its 3G coverage areas. The development gives Batelco and edge over Etisalat, which abandoned the auction mid way through.

Etisalat’s Indian subsidiary, Etisalat DB, withdrew from auction after bidding surpassed US$ 2 billion, according to a senior company official, UAE daily The National reported.

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Written by Shahzoor Ali


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