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Analysis of WIMAX/BWA Licensing in India: A real option approach

Sinha, Pankaj and Gupta, Akshay (2011): Analysis of WIMAX/BWA Licensing in India: A real option approach.

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Indian Internet and broadband market has experienced very slow growth and limited penetration till now. The introduction of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) is expected to aid in increasing the penetration of internet and broadband in India. The report sheds light on the guidelines and procedure used in 4G/BWA spectrum auction and presents comparative analysis of the competing technologies, providing the information about suitability of each technology available. Recently held 4G/ BWA spectrum auction saw enthusiastic participation by the industry and even saw some new entrants in Indian broadband market. Government benefited by Rs, 385bn that it earned as revenue from the auction of the spectrum and projected it as successful auction. However, the question remains if the auctions were efficient and whether they led to creation of value or will it prove to be burden to the telecom operators and will depress their balance sheet for years to come. The report uses both traditional valuation methods such as Discounted Cash Flow as well as Real Option approach to answer such questions. Using DCF analysis, the broadband subscribers have been forecasted to grow from present 13.77mn to 544mn by the end of 2025. The wireless subscribers are forecasted to be 70% of the total broadband subscribers after 5 years of roll out as it will be difficult to replace all wireline subscribers with wireless subscribers in India due to the high cost of wireless broadband and new technology. WiMAX is expected to increase its presence with time and reach 90mn subscribers from meager 0.35mn subscribers by 2025. Using industry wide cost of capital as 12.05%, the Net Present Value has been found Rs 221bn aggregate with an IRR of 17.1%. Using Real option approach, the value of license has been calculated as Rs 437bn which is 13.5% more than the spectrum fees paid by the operators. This mismatch, between the auction value and the correct value that should have been discovered by supply-demand dynamics, can be due to limited participants in BWA spectrum auctions and companies such as TATA and Reliance opting out of the auction process midway as well as uncertainty about acceptance of new technology with Indian subscribers.

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