Indian operator completes acquisition of Tikona Digital’s shares; spectrum transfer in Rajasthan on hold pending DoT approval.

Bharti Airtel has closed the acquisition of Tikona Digital Networks, a move that will give it access to spectrum and cell sites across five of India’s telecoms circles.

India’s biggest mobile operator announced that it has completed the acquisition of Tikona Digital’s shares and that the unit has become a wholly-owned subsidiary in a short statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange on Monday.

One element of the deal is outstanding though: it has yet to take ownership of Tikona’s spectrum in the Rajasthan circle, since it is still waiting for the approval of Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

When it announced the Tikona deal in March, Bharti explained that its Airtel unit would acquire the firm’s 4G business in four circles – Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West) and Himachal Pradesh – while the fifth, Rajasthan, would be taken over via Airtel subsidiary Bharti Hexacom.

Tikona holds 20 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band across the five circles, as well as 350 cell sites.

Bharti said the deal would enable it to fill spectrum gaps in the 2.3 GHz band in Rajastan, Uttar Pradesh (East) and Uttar Pradesh (West), giving it a pan-Indian footprint in the band, while boosting its spectrum position in the other two circles, giving it 30 MHz in both.

On completion of the deal, Airtel will have 30 MHz in the 2.3 GHz band in 13 circles, the telco said. It was keen to point out that the deal still leaves it within the government’s spectrum caps though.

"Airtel plans to roll-out high speed 4G services on the newly acquired spectrum in the five circles immediately after the closure of the transaction," the operator said, in March.