5G spectrum sale nears ₹1.50 lakh crore mark on Day 5; bidding to resume on Sunday

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The auction of the 5G spectrum capable of offering ultra-high-speed internet garnered bids worth about 1,49,966 crore on the fifth day of sale on Saturday and the bidding is expected to continue on Sunday.

The total value of bids in the telecom spectrum auction, which began on Tuesday, has come within striking distance of the 1.50 lakh crore mark.

“The 5G auction shows that the industry wants to expand, it has come out of problems and is getting into a growth phase. The auction results are very good, close to 1,49,966 crore has been committed by the industry for buying the spectrum,” Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said at a briefing in Mumbai, after a telecom investors’ roundtable.

The minister said that the auction and its “good response” underlines the industry’s maturity.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and a unit of billionaire Gautam Adani’s flagship Adani Enterprises are in the race to bid for the 5G spectrum, which offers speeds about 10 times faster than 4G, lag-free connectivity and can enable billions of connected devices to share data in real-time.

Besides powering ultra-low latency connections, which allow downloading full-length high-quality video or movie to a mobile device in a matter of seconds (even in crowded areas), the Fifth Generation or 5G would enable solutions such as e-health, connected vehicles, more-immersive augmented reality and metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming, among others.

The reserve price fixed for spectrum is a “fair number” and the same is visible from the auction outcome, the minister said.

Incrementally, 111-112 crore came in on Saturday, the provisional proceeds rising from the 1,49,855 crore received till Friday from players like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel.

Industry analysts citing the telecom ministry data said that the demand in Uttar Pradesh East – which had peaked over the last three days – fell below supply levels on Saturday.

Earlier, the demand was for 75 blocks against the supply of 54 blocks, experts said, adding in the just-concluded round the demand was for 50 blocks, four less than the supply in the circle.

The demand-supply pattern in Uttar Pradesh East indicated that the bidding activity may be showing signs of winding down, although the situation will be clearer on Sunday morning.

Seven fresh rounds were conducted on Saturday, and the bidding will resume on Sunday (a departure from the usual practice) with the 31st round.

Till Friday, about 71 per cent of the total spectrum put on the block had been provisionally sold.

After a flying start on Tuesday that saw players pouring in 1.45 lakh crore on the first day, the numbers moved up only incrementally over Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday as Jio and Airtel engaged in intense bidding in Uttar Pradesh East circle for 1800 MHz band in the last couple of days.

In all, 72 GHz (gigahertz) of radiowaves worth at least 4.3 lakh crore is on the block.

The auction is being 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.


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