Telenor India reportedly is close to finalising a deal to acquire 4G spectrum in two regions for INR35 billion ($527 million) from Videocon Telecom, a smaller player under pressure due to its large debt.
Telenor wouldn’t comment on the trade, which sources told The Economic Times could be announced soon, and Videocon would only say “a leading foreign telecoms carrier had emerged as the prime contender” for the 10MHz of 1.8GHz in Uttar Pradesh (East) and Bihar.
Idea Cellular, the country’s third largest operator, announced earlier this week it will buy spectrum in two regions from Videocon for INR33.1 billion to boost its spectrum holding. It will acquire 10MHz of 1.8GHz spectrum in Uttar Pradesh (West) and Gujarat, with the licences expiring in 2032.
Videocon, a smaller player with less than a 1 per cent market share, has been looking to sell spectrum in six service areas to raise funds. It has held talks with a number of operators, including Idea, Telenor, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India.
The government approved spectrum sharing guidelines in August and spectrum trading rules in September. A number of operators have already taken steps to share or trade spectrum but, if finalised, the Videocon deals would be the country’s first official spectrum trading transactions, which requires confirmation from the Department of Telecom.
Telenor India, which operates in six service areas, purchased 1.8MHz spectrum in four of those areas in February 2014 but didn’t acquire any additional airwaves in this year’s March auction. It has almost 48 million mobile connections, all of which are 2G, according to GSMA Intelligence.