The 5G telecom spectrum auction continued for the second day on Wednesday, totaling nine rounds (four rounds on first day) and garnered around ₹1.49-lakh crore bids, across all bands. The auction will continue on Thursday.

“So far, at the end of the ninth round, we have been able to successfully generate bids worth ₹1,49,454 crore ... I am happy to see good competition in auction and for all bands,” Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, told reporters.

There is good response in all the bands including millimetre, gigahertz and mid bands, he said adding that the response to 700 MHz is also good. “The 700 MHz, which was never sold in the past, has been sold this time and we are confident this will provide a very good service to the far-flung areas of our country,” Vaishnaw said.

The government has put a total of 72 GHz (gigahertz) of radiowaves worth at least ₹4.3-lakh crore up for bidding. The auction — being held for spectrum in various low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), mid (3300 MHz) and high (26 GHz) frequency bands — started on Tuesday and the government had generated bids totalling around ₹1.45-lakh crore in four rounds of bidding, breaking the previous record of ₹1.09-lakh crore in 2015 auctions.

Accelerating transformation

According to analysts, the telcos have selectively bid for spectrum in the legacy (800-2500MHz) bands to either boost footprint or to renew the spectrum that is due to expire in 2024. For instance, Reliance Jio is to complete at least 2x10MHz footprint in 800MHz by bidding for spectrum in four circles. Bharti Airtel had spectrum coming up for renewal in 900 and 1800 MHz bands by 2024, and likely renewed a part of the expiring spectrum in the current auctions.

“With 5G spectrum auctions becoming a success, the 5G rollout will become a reality soon with a vast opportunity that will unfold for Indian enterprises and consumers. The launch of the 5G network will enable telecom operators to provide a new generation of high bandwidth services to customers and it will allow enterprises to embark on the Industry 4.0 journey. It will help accelerate digital transformation across industries spanning manufacturing, retail, utilities, smart cities and more,” Mahendra Nahata, Managing Director, HFCL, said.