Bids for 5G airwaves crossed the Rs 1.5 lakh-crore mark on the sixth day of the spectrum auction, with the government netting Rs 163 crore more on Sunday.
The action was focused on the key Uttar Pradesh (East) market, where the competition heated up again, after a day’s lull, for airwaves in the 1800 MHz band.
The government’s total collections rose to Rs 1,50,130 crore at end of day 6, with bidding set to resume on Monday with round 38. The per unit price of 1800 MHz spectrum in Uttar Pradesh (East) circle jumped to Rs 160.57 crore — now almost 76.5% higher than its Rs 91 crore per MHz base price.
The current auction price for 1800 MHz in the circle is, in fact, well above the Rs 153-crore per MHz base price of the March 2021 auction.
Auction trackers pointed out that in the 2021 sale, Reliance Jio Infocomm and
spent Rs 551 crore and Rs 490 crore to buy 3.6 MHz and 3.2 MHz, respectively, in the key circle’s 1800 MHz band, but that was at the then reserve price of Rs 153 crore. This time, the buyers will be acquiring airwaves in the band at a hefty premium — amid a bidding duel that has been underway for the past five days.
The outcome is vital for
as it fights rival Jio to protect its turf in India’s most populous circle, where some of its premium 900 MHz airwaves will expire in February 2024. This is more so since Jio is reckoned to have bought 10 units of super-efficient 700 MHz spectrum across India, including in UP (East). “Clearly, the UP (East) fight seems to have become an ego battle between the top two telcos, with neither willing to relent just yet, given the strategic importance of the market,” a top telco executive told ET.
The sixth day of the 5G auctions saw seven more rounds of bidding.
Auction analysts estimated that cumulative outflows for the 1800 MHz band pan-India have risen further to Rs 10,333 crore (from Rs 10,170 crore on day 5) — almost five times the band base price of Rs 2,116 crore.
Analysts estimated Jio’s aggregate spectrum buys to now be upward of Rs 84,500 crore, while Airtel’s were estimated above Rs 46,500 crore. Vodafone Idea’s spends are pegged over Rs 18,500 crore.
Analysts say the UP (East) circle is the fourth-largest service area in terms of adjusted gross revenue (AGR), accounting for 6.6% of AGR. For individual operators as well, the service area accounts for a reasonably large share of their gross revenues — ranging from 6.5% for Vi and 8.4% for Airtel, to 7.6% for Jio.
This year, the government has offered a shade over 72 GHz of 5G airwaves for 20 years across 10 bands — worth Rs 4.3 lakh crore at reserve prices. So far, over 40% of this has been bid for. Overall outflows in other bands remained unchanged over the last few days. Telcos have, so far, spent Rs 80,590 crore on C-band (3.5 GHz) waves; Rs 14,709 crore on the high band (26 GHz); Rs 3,180 crore on the 2100 MHz band; and Rs 39,270 crore on the 700 MHz waves.