A record over Rs.1.5 lakh crore worth of 5G telecom spectrum was sold in a seven-day auction ending on Monday, which saw billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio emerging as the top bidder to consolidate its leadership position. Sources with direct knowledge of the matter said provisional data puts the total bids at Rs. 1,50,173 crore.
The mop-up from the 5G spectrum, capable of offering ultra-high speed mobile Internet connectivity, is almost double at Rs. 77,815 crore worth 4G airwaves sold last year and triple of Rs. 50,968.37 crore garnered from a 3G auction in 2010.
Reliance Jio was the top bidder to the airwaves capable of offering speeds about 10 times faster than 4G, lag-free connectivity, and can enable billions of connected devices to share data in real-time. It was followed by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
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New entrant Adani group is said to have bought 26 Mhz spectrum for setting up a private telecom network.
The sources said details of which company bought how much spectrum would be known once the data from the auction is fully compiled.
Both Bharti and Jio have likely built a pan-India spectrum footprint for 5G, with Vodafone Idea’s selective participation.
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The government had put on offer spectrum in 10 bands but received no bids for airwaves in 600 MHz, 800 MHz and 2300 MHz bands. About two-thirds of the bids were for the 5G bands (3300 Mhz and 26 GHz), while more than a quarter of the demand came in the 700 Mhz band – a band that had gone unsold in the previous two auctions (2016 and 2021).
In the auction conducted last year – that had lasted two days – Reliance Jio picked up spectrum worth Rs. 57,122.65 crore, Bharti Airtel bid about Rs. 18,699 crore, and Vodafone Idea bought spectrum worth Rs. 1,993.40 crore.
This year, a total of 72 GHz (gigahertz) of radiowaves worth at least Rs. 4.3 lakh crore was put on the block. The auction was held for spectrum in various low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz), mid (3300 MHz) and high (26 GHz) frequency bands.
In addition to powering ultra-low latency connections, which allow downloading full-length high-quality video or movie to a mobile device in a matter of seconds (even in crowded areas), Fifth Generation or 5G would enable solutions such as e-health, connected vehicles, more-immersive augmented reality and metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming among others.
The auction garnered bids worth Rs. 1.45 lakh crore on the first day on July 26, with subsequent days seeing only marginal incremental demand in some circles.