5G spectrum auction drew bids totalling Rs 1,49,855 crore after four days, and over 70 per cent of the spectrum on the block was sold as telecom giants clamoured for airwave rights needed for next-generation networks in the world’s second-largest mobile market.
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About 71 per cent of the total spectrum put on the block has been provisionally sold, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said. “This is a very good response,” he added.
In seven rounds, the bid was Rs 231.6 crore on Friday. The government has yet to provide a breakup of bids made by individual players, but the latest state-wise data shows 23 rounds have taken place so far.
The telcos are bidding aggressively in the auction despite earlier concerns that they stand to lose about 40 per cent in potential revenues due to the allotment of some airwaves to enterprises for private networks.
Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and a unit of billionaire Gautam Adani’s flagship Adani Enterprises are in the race to bid for a 5G spectrum that offers speeds about 10 times faster than 4G, lag-free connectivity and can enable billions of connected devices to share data in real-time.
Jio, which counts global tech giants Facebook and Google among its backers, is expected to be the first carrier to launch 5G services in India.
Airtel and Vodafone have been under pressure following a price war triggered by Jio in 2016. Both have reported losses in recent years, burdened by previous spectrum dues to the government, though recent mobile data price hikes have slowly started helping Airtel to clock profits.
Adani Group said in early July that it does not plan to be in the consumer space and instead aims to provide solutions for private 5G networks.
A total of 72 GHz (gigahertz) of radiowaves worth at least Rs 4.3 lakh crore were put on the block. The auction is being 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.
Meanwhile, sources said the minister would also be holding a meeting with PE funds, VCs, investors, and banks in Mumbai on Saturday to understand their views and concerns and discuss the telecom sector’s growth path. Sources added that the move comes at a time when the government is formulating a new legal framework for the sector.
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.