Spectrum auction ends in two days, government to garner Rs 77,814.80 crore of Rs 3,92,000 crore of airwaves on offer

India’s first auction of telecom spectrum in five years ended on Tuesday with Rs 77,814.80 crore of airwaves being bought by bidders. Over 2,250 mhz of spectrum, which carry telecom signals, in seven bands worth Rs 3,92,000 crore at the reserve or start price was offered for bidding in the auction that began on Monday.  

Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash said that 855.60 mhz of spectrum was bought for Rs 77,814.80 crore in the auction. The two-day auction with just six rounds of bidding was one of the shortest auctions in a decade, analysts have noted. 

Bids were received in 800 mhz, 900 mhz, 1,800 mhz, 2,100 mhz and 2,300 mhz bands, but there were no takers for the airwaves in the premium 700 and 2,500 mhz bands. About one-third of the spectrum being auctioned was in the 700 mhz band, which was completely unsold during the 2016 auctions. 

According to analysts, there was a poor response to spectrum in the premium bands mostly because operators are unlikely to diversify into a new spectrum band that will require incremental investment in equipment. Instead they find it viable to use other sub-ghz bands that are available at lower prices.

Reliance Jio (RJio) emerged as the highest bidder in the 4G telecom spectrum auction by buying airwaves worth Rs 57,122.65 crore. RJio, which bagged more than 50 per cent of the total quantum of airwaves sold, purchased 488 mhz of the total 855.6 mhz that were offered for sale. The company spent more than 60 per cent of the amount on buying spectrum in the 800 mhz band – the next best bet after the most expensive 700 mhz band, which went unsold once more. Bharti Airtel bought 355.45 mhz for Rs 18,698.75 crore with the bulk of its purchase in the 2,300 mhz band. Financially-stressed Vodafone Idea purchased the least amount of spectrum at 11.80 mhz for Rs 1,993.40 crore.

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