India 5G spectrum auction attracts bids worth $18.5 billion


India’s 5G spectrum auction ended on Monday after receiving record bids worth over $18.5 billion in 40 rounds spanning seven days.

Government sources said airwaves worth $18.5 billion were sold and the final tally will be released by the government in the next few days.

Media reports from India suggested that telecom major Reliance Jio has placed bids for more than half of the total value at more than $10 billion, while arch rival Airtel’s bids are worth nearly $6 billion. Vodafone Idea has placed bids of around $2.2 billion while a unit of Adani Enterprises has bid for around $400 million.

Government sources said Jio and Airtel were fiercely engaged in intense bidding in Uttar Pradesh East circle for the 1800MHz band. According to IANS, Devroop Dhar, co-founder and board member, Primus Partners, said the auction stands testimony to the fact that the industry is willing and ready to expand further than ever before.

“That is also the reason behind the key players finally going for the 700MHz bands. The 40 per cent cut down of the bands acted as an aid for the bidders,” Dhar told the news agency.

The expansive 700MHz band is built to cover densely populated regions such as India, which will benefit from this band and receive expansive 5G coverage. “As bidding has been much higher than the previous auctions, the amount generated will add positively to the revenue and will help the government in the future while setting up the 5G infrastructure,” Dhar added.

While Reliance Jio may have an upper hand in terms of bundled handsets and their investments, other industry players also have an opportunity to compete in the industry as according to studies, Indian consumers claim to be willing to pay 50 per cent more for 5G-bundled plans.

“Hence, the companies need to find an incentive to get their customers upgrade to 5G devices,” Dhar said.

India’s information technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said he expects the 5G rollout by October this year.