NEW DELHI: The Department of Telecom (DoT) received total bids of Rs 1.45 lakh crore on the first day of the 5G spectrum auction. As per the telecom ministry, 4 rounds of the auction took place on Day 1 of India’s biggest-ever bid for spectrum and saw the highest-ever interest from bidders in the mid-and-high bands -- 3,300 MHz and 24 GHz. The 720 MHz low band, which went unsold in previous auctions, too received bids for the first time ever. As per reports, 40% of the 720 MHz band has been sold.
“The auction saw healthy participation. After 4 rounds, we have seen strong bids. This response shows the industry has turned the tide and is now growing into a sunrise industry; it will focus on investment and providing better quality service,” Telecom minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told reporters on Tuesday evening.
The minister further said the government intends to allocate the spectrum “in record time” — by August 14, with a rollout of service expected by September. India’s top two telcos Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, along with cash-strapped Vodafone Idea (VIL) and new entrant Adani Data Networks, have put in bids so far. The government has put on sale 72 GHz of 5G airwaves across 10 bands worth `4.3 lakh crore at base price. The auction begins at 10 am and will continue till 6 pm each day.
“Next 36 hours will pave the way for 5G roll-out in India. While the EMD (earnest money deposit) deposited and subsequent allocation of points allow operators to buy spectrum almost to the tune of Rs 2 lakh crore, the government is expected to garner about 40% from this auction, said Peeyush Vaish, partner and telecom sector leader, Deloitte India. He added that since the supply is abundant, there is a fair chance of deferment of larger chunks of spectrum by the operators.
Jio has made a Rs 14,000 crore EMD, Airtel has put in Rs 5,500 crore and debt-laden VIL has made Rs 2,200 crore. Cash-rich Gautam Adani-led-Adani Data Network put in just Rs 100 crore. The EMD indicates the maximum quantity of airwaves a company can bid for in the auction, usually, firms can bid 8-10x of the EMD amount. Meanwhile, the DoT has said telcos can get an E-band spectrum from the government in an administrative manner for the circles they have purchased a spectrum for.