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Jio inks pact with Airtel to buy some spectrum in 800 MHz band

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NEW DELHI: Reliance Jio has signed an agreement with Bharti Airtel to acquire a portion of spectrum in 800 MHz band for Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Mumbai circles at an aggregate value of Rs 1,497 crore — marking the first such deal between the two telecom giants.

With this spectrum trading agreement, Airtel will receive a consideration of Rs 1,037.6 crore from Jio for the proposed transfer.

In addition, Jio will assume future liabilities of Rs 459 crore relating to the spectrum, Bharti Airtel said in a separate statement.

“Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Bharti Airtel for the acquisition of the right to use spectrum in the 800MHz band in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Mumbai circles through spectrum trading,” Jio statement said.

Given the enhanced spectrum footprint, especially contiguous spectrum, and superior infrastructure deployed, Jio said it has further increased its network capacity.

With this trading of right to use spectrum, Jio will have 2X15 MHz of spectrum in the 800 MHz band in Mumbai circle and 2X10 MHz of spectrum in the 800 MHz band in Andhra Pradesh and Delhi circles, thereby further consolidating its spectrum footprint in these locations.

Reliance Jio has acquired ‘Right to Use’ of 800 MHz spectrum in Andhra Pradesh (3.75 MHz), Delhi (1.25 MHz) and Mumbai (2.50 MHz) — in all adding up to 7.50 MHz. This marks the first such deal between the two telecom giants.

Airwaves come in different bands which support different propagation characteristics for the transmission of voice and data. For instance, lower bands like 800 MHz and 900 MHz support good indoor coverage while higher bands like 2300 MHz have a good carrying capacity. The airwaves are also sold in quantities measured as MHz.

The trading agreement is in accordance with the spectrum trading guidelines issued by the Department of Telecommunications and is subject to the requisite regulatory and statutory approvals.

Commenting on the development, Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel, said: “The sale of the 800 MHz blocks in these three circles has enabled us to unlock value from the spectrum that was unutilised. This is aligned to our overall network strategy”.

The sold spectrum had come to Airtel following the Tata Teleservices merger, sources said.

As per the latest data by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), the mobile subscriber base of Reliance Jio stood at 410.7 million in January 2021, as the operator added 1.9 million users in the month.

Airtel, India’s second-largest telecom player, had 344.6 million subscribers as of January 2021, having gained 5.8 million users during the month.

With the subscriber base of the Indian telecom market swelling and data usage touching new highs, the outcome of spectrum auctions held recently had surpassed original estimates.

Spectrum auctions, last month, had raked-in winning bids of over Rs 77,800 crore for 855.6 MHz of spectrum. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio spent the most in the auction, picking up 488.35 MHz spectrum in bands such as 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz for over Rs 57,100 crore.

In the auction, Bharti Airtel won the right to use spectrum, the total value of which is about Rs 18,700 crore. For Vodafone Idea, the value of spectrum bought in auctions was pegged at Rs 1,993.4 crore.

There were no takers for spectrum in 700 MHz and 2500 MHz bands in the latest auctions.

Source: Press Trust of India

Mobile Services

Pakistan temporarily suspends all social media platforms

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NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Friday temporarily suspended the services of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to stop their use to organise demonstrations following violent protests by a radical religious group that has now been banned by the government.

The government banned Tehreek-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) on Thursday following three days of violent protest by it to force the government to expel the French ambassador over a blasphemous caricature published in France last year.

The TLP had launched the country-wide protest on Monday after the arrest of its chief Saad Hussain Rizvi.

The TLP supporters clashed with the law enforcement agencies in several towns and cities earlier this week, leaving seven persons dead and over 300 policemen injured.

To stop the protests after Friday prayers, the Interior Ministry directed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to suspend social media services for four hours from 11 am to 3 pm.

The PTA said in a notification that complete access to social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube and Telegram) may be blocked.

The reason for the suspension of the services was not stated by the PTA but official sources said that it was feared that protesters could use social media to organise demonstrations.

Suspension of internet and mobile phone services is a common practice in Pakistan to forestall protests and acts of terrorism.

But this time only social media has been particularly targeted as the TLP was reportedly using it effectively against the government action.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed warned the TLP against using YouTube to upload propaganda videos. The TLP came to prominence in November 2017 when it staged a sit-in at the Faizabad interchange near Islamabad and cut off the capital from the old international airport.

Pakistan Muslims League-Nawaz (PML-N) was in the government then and Imran Khan, the current prime minister, and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party had supported the protest.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Spectrum Auction 2021: Telecom Department assigns frequencies to successful bidders

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NEW DELHI: Department of Telecom (DoT) today (16.04.2021) successfully completed the assignment of frequencies to successful bidders of the Spectrum Auction, 2021. Frequency assignment letters were issued to successful bidders today.

The frequency assignment was accompanied by a frequency harmonization exercise, whereby spectrum blocks assigned to Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) in the current spectrum auction have been made contiguous with the spectrum blocks already held by them, wherever possible, in various bands in different Licensed Service Areas (LSAs).

The harmonization of spectrum was accomplished in 19 LSAs in 800 MHz band, 8 LSAs in 900 MHz band, 21 LSAs in 1800 MHz band, 3 LSAs in 2100 MHz band, and 16 LSAs in 2300 MHz band.The harmonization exercise facilitates more efficient utilization of spectrum held by TSPs, leading to improved Quality of Service for consumers.

As a part of the frequency assignment, the Government has also accepted the request of two TSPs – M/S Bharti and M/S Reliance Jio, for assignment of immediately available unsold spectrum blocks in place of spectrum blocks in the same band and LSA assigned to them from later dates. An amount of Rs. 2306.97 crore (Rs. 157.38 crore from M/s Bharti and Rs. 2149.59 crore from M/s Reliance Jio) has been received immediately by the Government, rather than in August/ September, 2021.

It may be recalled that a total quantity of 855.60 MHz of spectrum in 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, and 2300 MHz bands was acquired by Telecom Service Providers (TSPs) in the Spectrum Auction, 2021, conducted on 1st and 2nd March, 2021.

The total amount payable by the successful bidders for the total quantity of spectrum acquired is Rs 77820.81 crore.

Of this, an amount of Rs 21918.47 crore was received as upfront payment from the TSPs on 18th March, 2021, as per terms and conditions of the Notice Inviting Applications.

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Appointments

UserTesting names Jon Pexton Chief Financial Officer

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NEW DELHI: UserTesting, a leading provider of on-demand human insights, today announced the appointment of Jon Pexton as Chief Financial Officer.

Pexton brings a strong financial background at both private and public companies and his leadership experience will serve as a strong asset in helping UserTesting continue its global growth.

“The UserTesting Human Insight Platform is well positioned to help companies better understand, empathize and improve their customer’s experience. It is a timely solution as many aspects of life are changing quickly, and becoming more digital. Delivering great experiences is critical for success and differentiation,” said Pexton.

“I’m excited to join the leadership team at this pivotal time and help the company continue its global expansion and leadership in this category,” he added.

Prior to joining UserTesting, Pexton was CFO of Workfront, a SaaS-based enterprise work management platform that was acquired by Adobe (NASDAQ: ADBE). Before Workfront, Pexton served as CFO of two financial technology companies and in leadership positions at CallidusCloud, Vitria Technology and Remedy Software. With more than 25 years of financial leadership experience, Pexton started his career at Ernst & Young and has led finance teams for all stages of companies.

“We are at an exciting time here at UserTesting, and Jon’s outstanding background in helping high growth technology companies scale and operate at a higher level is an ideal match for our current growth trajectory,” said Andy MacMillan, CEO of UserTesting.

“More importantly, Jon is an outstanding leader, and he is a great fit for our executive team as we move into our next phase of growth,” he added.

 

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