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Spectrum acquisition has put us on strong footing, Vodafone India

Spectrum acquisition in recent auctions to fill certain gaps in some circles has put VIL on a “strong footing” to be competitive in market, ensuring all elements are now in place to offer improved services and compelling proposition to customers, a senior company official said.

Vodafone Idea Limited (VIL) Chief Regulatory and Corporate Affairs Officer, P Balaji sought to “debunk the myth” that VIL may not have acquired large amounts of spectrum due to financial constraints.

He asserted that the company had bid for just as much radiowaves, as it needed to boost its services and coverage. The company has adequate spectrum to meet customers’ requirement and to be competitive in the market, he told PTI.

“So we chose to buy what we chose to buy, because we had the largest spectrum pool among all the private operators…Even now, after auctions, we are not lowest on spectrum holding among private operators,” he said.

The company has “stayed true” to its business strategy right through integration process (merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular), kept focus on service quality “as affirmed by third-party validations and benchmarks”, and inked partnerships that bring value to customers, Balaji contended.

“Whether it is capacity, partnership, coverage, customer experience, quality of service – all these elements are in place… We have a compelling proposition for customers, and we will have a fair share of the market,” he said.

VIL’s spectrum holding post-auction stands at 1,768.60 MHz.

For Vodafone Idea, the value of spectrum bought in auctions (11.80 MHz) was at Rs 1,993.4 crore. Industry sources said that its deferred option entails payment of Rs 574.6 crore as immediate upfront payment, and Rs 103.50 crore for frequencies available at later date.

The payment for the same is as per prescribed schedule laid down by Department of Telecom (DoT).

Asked if the company has adequate funds for making upfront payment on spectrum bought in recent auctions, Balaji said, “Yes, we will make the upfront payment as required by DoT”.

“11.8 MHz spectrum is all we needed to fill our requirements,” Balaji said.

On how VIL is looking at the 5G opportunity, Balaji said the company has done significant amount of investments in its network, to make it 5G-ready.

“We have already done one of the largest deployments of 5G-ready technologies including core cloudification and these help us deliver better quality of service to our customers,” he said.

VIL has applied for participation in 5G trials and is hopeful of a go ahead from the government.

“These trials will allow us and other players to make sure that specific India use cases are put together to test and that will also allow, for in future whenever 5G is massively deployed, to get these to scale across verticals,” Balaji said. PTI

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