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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

Kumar Mangalam Birla tells government he is willing to give up promoter stake in Vodafone Idea

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NEW DELHI: Kumar Mangalam Birla has told the government of India he his willing to offer his stake in Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) to any state-owned or “domestic financial entity” to keep the stressed telecom company afloat.

Birla, VIL’s promoter and chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, made the suggestion in a letter to union cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba on June 7. VIL has a debt of around Rs 1.8 trillion, which includes deferred spectrum obligations and adjusted gross revenue liabilities. Its board had last September announced a plan to raise Rs 25,000 crore but investors have not been forthcoming in the absence of government support.

Birla’s letter highlighted the need for urgent measures from the government while offering to give up control of the company. “It is with a sense of duty towards 27 crore Indians connected by VIL, I am more than willing to hand over my stake in the company to any entity-public sector/government/domestic financial entity or any other that the government may consider worthy of keeping the company as a going concern,” Birla said in his letter.

Birla owns over 27 per cent stake in VIL, while Vodafone Plc holds over 44 per cent. The current market capitalisation of VIL is over Rs 24,000 crore. The two promoters have decided against infusing fresh funds in the company. Vodafone Plc has already written off all its investment in VIL following continuous

losses.

“To actively participate in the fund raising, the potential foreign investors want to see clear government intent to have a three player telecom market (consistent with its public stance) through positive actions on long-standing requests such as clarity on AGR liability, adequate moratorium on spectrum payments and most importantly, a floor pricing regime above the cost of service. In the absence of definitive steps in this regard, the potential investors have understandable hesitation to invest,” Birla wrote.

Birla further said that VIL’s financial situation will drive its operations to an irretrievable point of collapse without immediate active support from the government on these three issues.

Last month the Supreme Court dismissed petitions of VIL and Bharti Airtel seeking correction in alleged errors in calculating the AGR. VIL had calculated its remaining AGR dues at around Rs 21,500 crore after making a payment of Rs 7800 crore. However, the department of telecommunications concluded the company’s total AGR liability of around Rs 58,000 crore.

Source: Press Trust of India

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Kaspersky partners Bharti Airtel for selling cybersecurity software

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NEW DELHI: Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky has partnered with Bharti Airtel to reach out to its over 34 crore customers for selling its security softwares at lower prices.

The collaboration between the two companies will allow Airtel customers to purchase Kaspersky Total Security solutions directly from the Airtel Thanks app exclusive deals on them, a joint statement by Kaspersky and Airtel said.

“We are very much looking forward to supporting Bharti Airtel in its goal to protect their users, create a more secure internet, and build a safer digital world together with Kaspersky.

“I am convinced that this partnership will further contribute to establishing Airtel as an innovational pioneer and a leader in its industry,” Kaspersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky said in the statement.

According to Kaspersky, mobile threats in India have drastically increased since 2019 and are becoming more targeted and sophisticated in nature. India ranked seventh among the countries attacked with mobile threats in 2020, Kaspersky said.

“Airtel is working round the clock to deliver a secure network experience through world-class infrastructure and partnerships.

“We are delighted to partner with Kaspersky and make their solutions easily accessible for Airtel customers, who can purchase and install these in a matter of minutes and enjoy complete peace of mind,” Bharti Airtel Chief Information Officer Pradipt Kapoor said.

Source: Press Trust of INdia

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In boost for Indian IT, US to conduct rare 2nd lottery for H-1B applicants

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NEW DELHI: The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said that a decision was taken after determining that the computerised draw of lots for H-1B visas conducted early this year did not give them enough number of Congressional mandated H-1B visas.

The H-1B visa, most sought-after among Indian IT professionals, is a non-immigrant visa that allows US companies to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise.

Technology companies depend on it to hire tens of thousands of employees each year from countries like India and China.

We recently determined that we needed to select additional registrations to reach the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 numerical allocations. On July 28, we selected previously submitted electronic registrations using a random selection process, the USCIS said in a statement.

The petition filing period based on registrations selected on July 28 will begin on August 2 and close on November 3. Individuals with selected registrations will have their myUSCIS accounts updated to include a selection notice, which includes details of when and where to file, it said.

The move by the USCIS to conduct the second lottery will provide another chance to several applicants, including hundreds of Indian IT professionals, who could not make it in the first random selection.

The federal agency said that only those petitioners with selected registrations for FY 2022 are eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions. The initial filing period for those with selected registrations for FY 2022 was from April 1, 2021, through June 30, 2021.

The USCIS said an H-1B cap-subject petition must be properly filed at the correct service center and within the filing period indicated on the relevant registration selection notice.

Online filing is not available for H-1B petitions. Petitioners filing H-1B petitions must do so by paper and must include a printed copy of the applicable registration selection notice with the FY 2022 H-1B cap-subject petition.

Registration selection only indicates that petitioners are eligible to file H-1B cap-subject petitions; it does not indicate that the petition will be approved. Petitioners filing H-1B cap-subject petitions, including those petitions eligible for the advanced degree exemption, must still submit evidence and establish eligibility for petition approval based on existing statutory and regulatory requirements, the USCIS added.

Source: Press Trust of India

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