5G spectrum auction: Reliance Jio emerges as top bidder
The third day of India's first 5G spectrum auction has commenced with the 10th round now underway. Five rounds of intense bidding were witnessed yesterday. The bid amount for the airwaves has exceeded Rs. 1.49 lakh crore with Reliance Jio being the frontrunner. The Centre is expecting the sale to conclude today and spectrum allocation to telecom companies should be completed before August 15.
- The bid amount on the first day exceeded Rs. 1.45 lakh crore while on day 2, the government garnered Rs. 4,000 crore more, upping the total to Rs. 1.49 lakh crore. This exceeds the Rs. 1.09 lakh crore revenue earned from the 4G spectrum auction in 2015.
- Reliance Jio has emerged as the leader of this race and is outbidding its rivals by far.
Reliance Jio has spent around Rs. 84,300 crore in acquiring 130 units of the 1,800MHz band, 3.3-3.67GHz spectrum, and 700MHz and 26GHz airwaves. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea's estimated spending stands at Rs. 46,100 crore and Rs. 18,400 crore, respectively, for airwaves in 1,800MHz and 2,100MHz bands. Adani Data Networks is only bidding for the 26GHz band and has spent around Rs. 900-1,000 crore.
The UP-East circle witnessed aggressive bidding between Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel in the 1,800MHz band because of the excessive demand there. It comprises cities such as Prayagraj, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur, and Gorakhpur. The two telcos also duked it out for the mid-band airwaves in nine other circles, including Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, UP-West, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh.
Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that "good competition" was seen in almost all the bands on sale. He was also happy because the 700MHz band did not go unsold as in the past two auctions in 2016 and 2021. It is ideal for coverage in high-density areas. The C-band with frequencies between 3.3-3.67GHz and the high-band of 26GHz witnessed heavy bidding.
The Centre is auctioning the 5G spectrum in various frequency bands, including low (600MHz, 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1,800MHz, 2,100MHz, 2,300MHz, and 2,500MHz), mid (3,300MHz), and high (26GHz). Meanwhile, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and telcos have already started pilot testing of the 5G network.