India sells 5G spectrum worth $19 billion, Jio top spender

5G spectrum India
Post 5G spectrum auction relief. Image by Vadym Pastukh | Bigstockphoto

India has successfully concluded its first-ever 5G auction with private telecom operators buying spectrum worth $19 billion. The government has managed to sell 71% of the total spectrum put up for sale.

Four bidders

Of the total 72.098 GHz of spectrum on the block, 51.236 GHz was picked up among the four bidders – Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Adani Data Networks.

“We understand that the spectrum purchased is good enough to cover all the circles in the country. In 2-3 years, very good coverage for 5G,” telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said after the conclusion of the spectrum auction.

Reliance Jio most aggressive

Market leader Reliance Jio was the most aggressive bidder, followed by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, respectively.

Jio acquired 24.740 GHz of spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz, 3300MHz and 26GHz bands in the auctions for $11 billion.

“Now, with a bigger ambition and stronger resolve, Jio is set to lead India’s march into the 5G era…Jio is committed to offering world-class, affordable 5G and 5G-enabled services,” Akash M Ambani, Chairman, Reliance Jio Infocomm, said in a statement.

“Jio has acquired a unique combination of low-band, mid-band and mmWave spectrum, which coupled with our deep fibre network and indigenous technology platforms, will enable us to provide 5G Everywhere and 5G For All (consumers and enterprises),” the telco said in a statement Monday.

Jio said the spectrum acquisition in the 700MHz band would help it provide pan-India true 5G services with faster speeds, lower latency and massive connectivity. The telco said that its Jio’s 5G network would enable the next generation of digital solutions that will accelerate India’s AI-driven march towards becoming a US$5+ trillion economy.

Jio said it is fully geared up for 5G rollout in the shortest period because of “its nationwide fibre presence, all-IP network with no legacy infrastructure, indigenous 5G stack, and strong global partnerships across the technology ecosystem”.

Airtel has enough spectrum for years to come

Airtel acquired 19867.8 MHz spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz frequency bands through the auction for $5.4 billion. The acquisition of new spectrum means that the company does not need to spend any more on spectrum for many years to come.

“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,” Gopal Vittal, M.D & CEO, Bharti Airtel said in a separate statement.

“This will allow us to change a lot of established paradigms for both our B2C and B2B customers,” Vittal added.

Vodafone least aggressive

Vodafone Idea, which was the least aggressive bidder among the three telcos, said that it acquired spectrum in 3300 MHz band in its 17 priority circles and mmWave 5G spectrum or 26 GHz band in 16 circles for $2.4 billion.

Vodafone Idea said that the spectrum acquired will enable it to offer a superior 5G experience to its customer, strengthen its enterprise offerings and provide new opportunities for business growth in the emerging 5G era. “The additional 4G spectrum acquisition in 3 circles of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab will further improve the customer experience; an area where we have been consistent,” the telco added in a statement.

New entrant Adani Data Networks placed a bid for 5G airwaves in the 26 GHz band to be used for its captive private networks.

Related article: India’s 5G auction dates; enterprises to get spectrum for private networks

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