The telecom spectrum auction for 5G technology continued for the third day on Thursday, totalling 16 rounds (four rounds on the first day, five rounds on Wednesday) with not much change in the bidding amount of ₹1,49,623 crore, across all bands.

This is marginally higher than the ₹1,49,454 crore-worth of bids received at the end of the ninth round on Wednesday, the second day of the auction. On the first day of the auction on Tuesday, the government saw bidding of around ₹1.45 lakh crore.

The government has put a total of 72 GHz (gigahertz) of radiowaves worth at least ₹4.3 lakh crore up for bid. The auction, which was expected to last for a day or two, has now completed three days and will start with the 17th round on Friday.

“The 16th round was over by 6.30 p.m. and it took 45 minutes for each round of bidding today. The good thing is that the entire industry is committed to taking the services to rural areas and improving the quality there...the biddings which are taking place now are basically for spreading the services. The first day was about buying spectrum, but now it is about where to buy the spectrum for,” Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, told media here.

He said the companies are looking at the future situations and not just looking at present services.

“As I said yesterday also, there is interest for each band and biddings are taking place across bands, including 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2500MHz, 3300MHz, and 26GHz. It’s a very healthy sign and the auction will spill over tomorrow (Friday),” Vaishnaw said.

According to analysts, the auction, which was expected to be non-aggressive, is getting into intense bidding across various bands now.

“As intense bidding across various bands by operators like Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel kept the pace going and extended the sale to the third day on Wednesday, the auctions brought in more than ₹1.49 lakh crore. Since more than a year, the government has become quite proactive in terms of updating the policy around space, Satellite Communications and geospatial data,” Abhishek Malhotra, Managing Partner at TMT Law Practice, said.

Various research firms had expected the auctions to close at around ₹1.20 lakh crore, which has now already crossed ₹1.49 lakh crore.