Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio emerged the top bidder in India’s 5G spectrum auction, acquiring 24,740 MHz spectrum worth Rs 88,078 crore, IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw announced on Monday. Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel was the second-highest bidder with 19,867 MHz spectrum in various bands worth Rs 43,084 crore, in the auction that spanned for seven days with 40 rounds. Vodafone Idea, at third place, received 2,668 MHz worth Rs 18,784 crore while a unit of Adani Group acquired 400 MHz spectrum in 26 GHz band worth Rs 212 crore, according to the minister. Overall, the country saw bids worth Rs 1,50,173 crore for 71 per cent of total 5G airwaves spectrum out in this latest auction. “About 72,098 MHz of spectrum was offered for auction and out of that, 51,236 MhZ has been sold,” the minister said. Reliance Jio took the more expensive 700MHz in all 22 circles. The band has a range from 5-10 km which gives good base coverage. Airtel acquired 19,867.8 MHz spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz frequency bands for Rs 43,084 crore. Airtel has secured 5G spectrum for 20 years in this auction. The company said, in a statement, that the acquisition of this vast amount of spectrum strapped on to an already industry best existing pool of spectrum will mean that the company does not need to spend any material sum on spectrum for many years to come.
“We are confident that we will be able to deliver the best 5G experience in India in terms of coverage, speeds and latency. This will allow us to change a lot of established paradigms for both our B2C and B2B customers,” said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Bharti Airtel. In addition, this spectrum acquisition has enabled Airtel to drastically reduce the payout towards spectrum usage charge (SUC) and eliminate the adverse SUC arbitrage compared to new entrants. Airtel said it now plans to launch 5G services in every part of the country, starting with key cities. Pankaj Mohindroo, Chairman of the India Cellular and Electronic Association (ICEA), said that they are delighted that the 5G rollout is formally on course. “It will be a huge stimulus for the economy. The mobile handset industry is ready in advance with more than 125 5G models already in the market, Rs 15,000 benchmark is breached and Rs 10,000 is in sight,” he added.