5G Spectrum Auction: Bids Worth Rs 1.5 Lakh Crore Made, 71% Of Airwaves Sold; Reliance Jio Biggest Buyer

The total bids amounted to Rs 1,50,173 crore for 51,236 MHz of spectrum.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Image: BQ Prime)</p></div>
(Image: BQ Prime)

India sold airwaves worth Rs 1.50 lakh crore in the weeklong 5G spectrum auction.

A total of 51,236 megahertz or 71% of the 72,098 MHz put up for auction was sold, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said while addressing media on Monday.

Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. was the biggest buyer, followed by Bharti Airtel Ltd., Vodafone Idea Ltd., and Gautam Adani-owned Adani Data Networks Ltd.

Operator-wise quantum of bids:

  • Reliance Jio Infocomm: Rs 88,078 crore.

  • Bharti Airtel: Rs 43,084 crore.

  • Vodafone Idea: Rs 18,799 crore.

  • Adani Data: Rs 212 crore.

The frequencies and bands that were bid for:

  • Adani Data Networks purchased 400 MHz in the 26 GHz band.

  • Bharti Airtel bought 19,867 MHz in the 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 3,300 MHz and 26 GHz bands.

  • Reliance Jio purchased 24,740 MHz in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1,300 MHz, and 26 GHz bands.

  • Vodafone Idea purchased 6,228 MHz in the 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,500 MHz, 3,300 MHz and 26 GHz bands.

The first annual instalment to be paid by the operators is Rs 13,365 crore. "The interest rate is 7.2% for computation. Those firms which have lower cost of capital might have to pay more," said Vaishnaw.

The spectrum purchase is good enough to cover all circles in the country for 5G, the minister said.

"5G allocation should be complete by Aug. 10, and we should be able to launch a 5G network in the country by October this year," he said.

All spectrum were sold at reserve prices, barring one circle. "Reserve price was breached only in the 1,800 MHz spectrum in the Uttar Pradesh-East circle," Vaishnaw said.

Reliance Jio Infocomm is fully ready for 5G rollout "in the shortest period of time", it said in a statement.

The company has nationwide fibre presence, all-IP network with no legacy infrastructure, indigenous 5G stack and strong global partnerships across the technology ecosystem that will enable it to do so, the statement said.

According to Vodafone Idea, the acquisition of mid-band 5G spectrum (3,300 MHz band) in 17 priority circles and Millimeter Wave 5G spectrum (26 GHz band) in 16 circles will enable it to offer a "superior 5G experience" to its customers.

"The additional 4G spectrum acquisition in three circles of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab will further improve the customer experience; an area where we have been consistently leading the league tables, as per various third party reports over the last several quarters," it said in a company statement.

Bharti Airtel's acquisition of spectrum for 20 years will mean that the company does not need to spend any material sum on spectrum for many years to come, it said in a statement.

"In addition, this spectrum acquisition has enabled Airtel to drastically reduce the payout towards spectrum usage charge and eliminate the adverse SUC arbitrage compared to new entrants."

The Sunil Bharti Mittal-led company will launch 5G services in "every part of the country starting with key cities", it said.

The Adani Group, in a statement on Tuesday, said the newly acquired 5G spectrum will help create a unified digital platform. The platform will accelerate digitisation of its core infrastructure, primary industry and B2C business portfolio, it said.

"Acquiring 400 MHz of spectrum is the first step in infrastructure portfolio, which includes data centres, terrestrial fibre and submarine cables, industrial cloud, AI innovation labs, cybersecurity and super apps."

The foray to allow portfolio companies to offer a set of new add-on services that capitalise on all the other digital segments we are building, Chairman Gautam Adani said in the statement.

Disclaimer: Adani Enterprises is in the process of acquiring a 49% stake in Quintillion Business Media Ltd., the owner of BQ Prime.