Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday asked telecom service providers to gear up for 5G launch, post the issuance of spectrum allocation letters. In a first, the Department of Telecom (DoT) has issued spectrum assignment letters on the same day the successful bidders of radio waves made upfront payments.

"5G Update:Spectrum assignment letter issued. Requesting TSPs to prepare for 5G launch," Vaishnaw wrote on a social media platform. The DoT has received payment of around ₹17,876 crore from service providers — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Adani Data Networks and Vodafone Idea for spectrum they won in a recent auction.

The country's biggest ever auction of telecom spectrum received a record ₹1.5-lakh crore worth of bids, with Mukesh Ambani's Jio cornering nearly half of all the airwaves sold with a ₹87,946.93 crore bid. Bharti Enterprises founder and chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said that his company Bharti Airtel received a spectrum allocation letter within a few hours of making upfront payment to the DoT.

"In my over 30 years of first-hand experience with DoT, this is a first ! Business as it should be. Leadership at work-Right at the top and at the helm of telecom. What a Change ! Change that can transform this nation – power its dreams to be a developed nation," Mittal said.

Airtel’s footprint

Airtel acquired 19,867.8 MHz spectrum by securing a pan-India footprint of 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands and selected purchase of radio waves in low and mid-band spectrum for ₹43,039.63 crore.

"Airtel paid ₹8,312.4 crore towards spectrum dues and was provided the allocation letter for the designated frequency bands within hours. E band allocation was given along with spectrum as promised. No fuss, no follow-up, no running around the corridors, and no tall claims. This is the ease of doing business at work in its full glory," Mittal said.

Airtel has said that it will launch 5G service this month. While all telecom operators have opted to make payments in 20 annual installments, Bharti Airtel paid ₹8,312.4 crore equivalent to four annual installments. Reliance Jio has made payments of ₹7,864.78 crore, Vodafone Idea ₹1,679.98 crore and Adani Data Networks ₹18.94 crore. Gautam Adani's group has placed bids worth ₹211.86 crore for 400 MHz in a band that is not used for offering public telephony services.

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