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Volume IconHas the 5G auction been a success?

India's first auction of 5G spectrum fetched the govt much more than what it expected. One-third of the total spectrum by value has been bought by top telcos on Day 1. Let's find out more

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India’s much-anticipated 5G spectrum auction received record-breaking bids worth Rs 1.45 trillion by the end of Day 1 after four rounds, exceeding analysts’ expectations.

This inched up to Rs 1.49 trillion by Day 2 in nine rounds of bidding. Telcos are not done yet, there’s more action left

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The previous record was set in 2015 when the exchequer garnered Rs 1.09 trillion from the sale of 4G airwaves, equivalent to about 1.5 trillion rupees today. 

Given the ample supply of spectrum in this year’s auction, the bidding across bands has been largely at reserve prices

Surprsingly, the expensive 700 Mhz band, which went unsold in the last two auctions because of high base price, received 10Mhz pan-India bid covering all 22 telecom circles costing Rs 39,270 crore. 

The base price for the band was reduced by 40% this time. Analysts say the buyer is most likely Reliance Jio.
The mid-frequency 5G band of 3.5 Ghz and the high-frequency band of 26 GHz also witnessed strong demand. 

On Day 1, Jio likely bid for the highest spectrum, worth Rs 81,000 crore, followed by Bharti Airtel at Rs 45,000 crore and Vodafone Idea at Rs 18,400 crore.

Both Airtel and Jio may have bid for 100Mhz of spectrum in the 3.5 Ghz band across all circles, while Vodafone Idea could have gone for 50Mhz in 17 circles.
Adani Data Networks may have picked up 26GHz spectrum pan-India, spending as much as Rs 900 crore.

 Sanjay Kapoor, Telecom Consultant and former Airtel India CEO says, Jio’s purchase of 700Mhz spectrum will put pressure on Airtel. Intra city fiber backhaul is a very expensive exercise, he says. E-band allotment for 5G backhaul is a good short term solution.

The government intends to allocate the spectrum by August 14th, with the rollout expected in the coming months. 
To speed up the launch, the telecom department provisionally allotted E-band spectrum to telcos for their 5G backhaul requirements. 

Shiv Putcha, Founder and Principal Analyst, Mandala Insights says, India has caught up to countries that have launched 5G. Adding new 5G base stations to existing towers will help in quick rollout, he says. Fiber backhaul infra in India is low compared to global standards.

While many Indians may well get to see 5G by the end of this year, experts say the existing infrastructure on access and backhaul is inadequate to provide a world-class 5G experience in the near-term.

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First Published: Jul 28 2022 | 7:00 AM IST

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