Spectrum auctions 2021 were conducted for the past two lasting a total of six bidding rounds where telecoms showed the depth of their wallet. Among them, unsurprisingly Reliance Jio emerged as the top spender shelling out over Rs. 57,122.65 crores for 488.35MHz spectrum.
During the auction, Reliance Jio expanded its share by 55% to 1771MHz and now holds the most share in sub-GHz and 2300MHz. This is followed by Bharti Airtel who spend Rs. 18,698.75 crores to acquire 355.45MHz of airwaves. In the third position, we have Vodafone Idea (Vi) spending a total of Rs. 1,993.40 crores to buy 11.80MHz spectrum. This auction fetched the Government of India Rs. 77,814.80 crores by selling a total of 855.60MHz spectrum. It interesting to note that none of the participants bid for 700MHz and 2500MHz bands. The bands sold account for 60% of the total, excluding 700MHz and 2500MHz bands.
Reliance Jio stated that this auction would help them use spectrum in 22 circles and that this could help them in the transition to the 5G services provision. “With our increased spectrum footprint, we are ready to further expand the digital footprint in India as well as get ourselves ready for the imminent 5G rollout,” said Mukesh Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Industries.
As for Airtel this purchase of 355.45MHz spectrum across sub-GHz, mid-band, and 2300MHz will benefit 90 million additional customers. They also said that none of the participants bid for 700MHz because of the high reserve price. The 700MHz would have helped strengthen internal cellular coverage.
“The 700MHz band coupled with the 3.5GHz band has the potential to accelerate India’s progress to the top league of digitally enabled nations. Therefore, the reserve pricing of these bands must be addressed on priority in future. This will help the nation to benefit from the digital dividend that will inevitably arise out of this,” says Airtel.
The allotted spectrum can be used by telecoms for up to 20 years from now. This auction was conducted to allocate specific 4G bands and there is no official word on a date for a dedicated 5G bands auction plans.