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Batelco affiliate S Tel wins 3G spectrum in India

Batelco's S Tel wins spectrum 3G for three regions of India

Kaliaropoulos said 3G services are vital to S Tel's strategy.
Kaliaropoulos said 3G services are vital to S Tel's strategy.

S Tel, the Indian affiliate of Bahrain's Batelco Group, secured 3G spectrum for its operations in Orissa, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh during the recent 3G auctions in India. S Tel, which is 42.7% owned by Batelco Group, will pay $76 million for the spectrum, covering three circles.

The company will compete against operators including Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Telecom and Aircel in its 3G coverage areas.

The development gives Batelco and edge over Etisalat, its Middle East rival in India, which abandoned the auction mid way through.

Etisalat's Indian subsidiary, Etisalat DB, withdrew from the auction after bidding surpassed US$2 billion, according to a senior company official, UAE daily The National, reported.

Batelco group CEO, Peter Kaliaropoulos said that Batelco was pleased S Tel had been successful in the auction, which raised a total of $14.6 billion for the Indian government.
"Securing 3G spectrum in these three markets is a critical element of S Tel's strategy to position itself as a leading company in India's fastest growing rural sector and meet anticipated strong demand for mobile internet services in the next few years," he said.

He added that S Tel, which launched services in Orissa, Bihar and Himachal Pradesh in December 2009, had already built up a customer base of more than 1.4 million subscribers in four months of operation.

Kaliaropoulos added that Batelco's investment in S Tel was an important part of the group's expansion strategy in wireless markets and fitted well "with the long term plans to diversify Batelco's geographical footprint and increase its scale".
STel and Etisalat DB were among nine companies that originally submitted applications to bid for 3G spectrum in India.

India's 3G auction, which closed in May, was largely dominated by bids from Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Aircel, and generated 677 billion rupees (Dh52.81bn) for the government, almost double the amount analysts had forecast.