New 5G Era, India's Biggest Spectrum Auction Starts: 10-Point Guide

India's biggest spectrum auction for 72 GHz (gigahertz) of 5G airwaves worth ₹ 4.3 lakh crore has started today.

New Delhi: India's biggest spectrum auction for 72 GHz (gigahertz) of 5G airwaves worth ₹ 4.3 lakh crore has started today. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and a unit of Gautam Adani's Adani Enterprises are in the race to bid for 5G spectrum.

  1. The bidding started at 1000 hrs (10 am) and will continue till 1800 hrs (6 pm) and carry over into the next day, if there is a demand for spectrum and bidders are putting in bids.
  2. The number of days the auction ultimately stretches to will depend on the actual demand for radiowaves and the strategy of individual bidders. Although, the broad industry consensus is that it may last up to two days.
  3. The auction is held for spectrum in various low (600 megahertz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz), mid (3300 MHz) and high (26 GHz) frequency bands.
  4. How Fast Is 5G? Picture this, a 5 GB movie can be downloaded in 35 seconds by using 5G internet as against 40 minutes in 4G; 2 hours in 3G; and 2.8 days in 2G, according to Bipartisan Policy Center.
  5. The Department of Telecom expects ₹ 70,000 crore to ₹ 1,00,000 crore from the 5G auctions that would ring in new-age offerings and business models, and enable ultra-high speeds -- about 10 times faster than 4G.
  6. Jio has made a ₹ 14,000 crore Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) while rival Adani group made a modest ₹ 100 crore deposit. EMD of all the four applicants seeking 5G radiowaves this time adds up to ₹ 21,800 crore, a level substantially higher than ₹ 13,475 crore deposited in the 2021 auction when three players were in the race. Airtel had put in ₹ 5,500 crore as EMD, while for Voda Idea the amount stands at ₹ 2,200 crore.
  7. It is expected that Jio could lead the spends, followed by Bharti Airtel while analysts see limited participation from Vodafone Idea and Adani Group. Previously, Adani has clarified that the airwaves it was seeking was to set up a private network to help digitise its businesses from airports to energy to data centres.
  8. Simply put, this meant no entry into the consumer mobile telephony space, where Jio is the largest player.
  9. Usually, EMD amounts give an indication of the players' appetite, strategy and plan for picking up spectrum in an auction. It also determines the eligibility points, through which telcos target specific amounts of spectrum in various circles.
  10. Telecom operators have the ability to go after radiowaves worth up to 7-8 times the EMD amounts submitted by them, although players do tend to keep headroom for manoeuvring and flexibility, based on how auction proceeds and the strategy adopted by rivals.


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