Jio-Airtel spectrum deal: what is this deal about, how much did Jio pay, and more

This is a first-of-its-kind deal between the two telecom rivals.

Highlights
  • Reliance Jio and Airtel have agreed to share spectrum as a part of a new agreement. 
  • Jio will use Airtel’s 800 MHz spectrum in Mumbai, Delhi, and Andhra Pradesh circles. 
  • Reliance Jio has paid Airtel around 1,040 crores for the rights to use the spectrum. 

Some time ago, we reported that Reliance Jio, Airtel, and Vodafone Idea bought a total of Rs 77,815 crore worth of 4G spectrum at a recent auction. While Reliance Jio spent an eye-watering Rs 57,122 crore, it apparently requires more bandwidth for its network. To that end, Reliance Jio has partnered up with Airtel to use the latter’s 800 MHz spectrum in Andhra Pradesh, Mumbai, and Delhi circles. Jio has paid Airtel around Rs 1,040 crores for the rights to use the 800 MHz spectrum. An additional Rs 459 crores spectrum-related dues will also be handled by the telecom provider. Reliance Jio will get access to ‘2X15 MHz’ of spectrum in the 800 MHz band in Mumbai circle and ‘2X10 MHz’ of spectrum in the 800MHz band in Andhra Pradesh and Delhi circles.

Also read: Jio buys Rs 57,122 crore worth of 4G spectrum, beats Airtel and Vodafone Idea by wide margin

Why is Airtel selling its 800 MHz spectrum to Jio?

It turns out that Airtel wasn’t utilizing the spectrum bands completely, which is what prompted it to sell the highly sought-after band. A statement from Airtel MD and CEO Gopal Vittal says, “The sale of the 800 MHz blocks in these three circles has enabled us to unlock value from spectrum that was unutilised. This is aligned to our overall network strategy.” However, it will be some time before Reliance Jio subscribers in these circles will be able to avail the benefits of the added bandwidth. 

Despite both Airtel and Reliance Jio conducting 5G field trials some time ago, it is unlikely that the service will be available in India anytime soon. TRAI and DoT are yet to hold auctions for the 5G spectrum, which can only happen after the requisite infrastructure is in place.