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5G services can be rolled out in October; top bidder Jio says ready

In the recently held telecom auction, a total of Rs. 1.5 lakh crore of bids were submitted for acquiring 71% bands, as per Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw

In a span of just seven days, a whopping Rs 1,50,173 crore worth of bids were received for the telecom spectrum in the latest 5G auction which came to an end on Monday.

With a bid of Rs 88,078 crores, Jio has secured nearly half of all the airwaves, with 24,740 MHz of airwaves across five bands which offer about 10 times faster speed than 4G. It has also acquired the coveted 700 MHz spectrum that can provide 6-10 km of signal range with one tower and forms a good base for offering 5G services in all 22 circles or zones in the country.

Meanwhile, Airtel had placed a successful bid of Rs 43,084 crore and bought 19,867.8 MHz of spectrum across five bands, but none in the 700 MHz spectrum. Vodafone Idea has also acquired 6,228 MHz of airwaves with their Rs 18,799 crore bid.

Airtel has acquired a total of 72 GHz (gigahertz) of radio waves, worth at least Rs 4.3 lakh crore, which was put on the block. The auction was 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.

Apart from the three telecom giants, Adani group has bought spectrum in the 26 GHz band, which is suitable for setting up a private network for end-to-end communication, in six states including Gujarat, Mumbai, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

According to Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, “Of the total 72,098 MHz of spectrum offered across 10 bands, 51,236 MHz or 71 per cent was sold.”

As per Vaishnaw, the allocation will be made by August 10 and 5G services are expected to be rolled out from October.

“In fact, the spectrum purchased is good enough to cover all circles in the country and in the coming two three years, we will have good 5G coverage,” he stated.

“Except the 1800 MHz band, for which Jio and Airtel had engaged in a fierce bidding, spectrum in all the bands was sold at the reserve or base price,” he added.

He further went on to add that, the 600 MHz Band which was offered for the first time did not receive any interest.

The mop-up from the 5G spectrum, capable of offering ultra-high speed mobile internet connectivity, is almost double of Rs 77,815 crore worth 4G airwaves sold last year and triple of Rs 50,968.37 crore garnered from the 3G auction in 2010.

About two-thirds of the bids were for the 5G bands (3300Mhz and 26Ghz), while more than a quarter of the demand came in the 700 Mhz band - a band that had gone unsold in the previous two auctions (2016 and 2021). The 1800 MHz band and 900 MHz bands (where Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have a footprint) got demand.

Unlike the previous two auctions where no interest was seen in the 700 MHz band, this time there was demand across 22 circles with 40 per cent of the total available spectrum being acquired.

According to Jio, “Launched just six years ago, Jio has created multiple world records during its rollout of the largest 4G network in the shortest period of time. Jio’s 4G network provides the highest quality, most affordable digital services to over 400 million loyal and delighted customers. Jio will now raise the bar even further with its 5G services,”

It further went on ahead to claim that the acquisition of the spectrum in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1800 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz bands will allow it to build the world's most advanced 5G network.

As per Akash M Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Jio Infocomm, “Now, with a bigger ambition and stronger resolve, Jio is set to lead India’s march into the 5G era.”

"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 the spectrum for many years to come," stated Airtel which is now well-positioned to usher in the 5G revolution in India.

Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, Bharti Airtel, said, “This spectrum acquisition at the latest auction has been a part of a deliberate strategy to buy the best spectrum assets at a substantially lower relative cost compared to our competition. We are confident that we will be able to deliver the best 5G experience in India in terms of coverage, speeds and latency.”

In a statement, Vodafone Idea also said that it participated in the spectrum auction to strengthen its pan-India 4G footprint and embark on a 5G roll-out journey.

"We have successfully acquired mid band 5G spectrum (3300 MHz band) in our 17 priority circles and mmWave 5G spectrum (26 GHz band) in 16 circles, which will enable us to offer a superior 5G experience to our customers as well as strengthen our enterprise offerings and provide new opportunities for business growth in the emerging 5G era. The additional 4G spectrum acquisition in three circles of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab will further improve the customer experience,” the statement read.

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