India’s 5G spectrum auction reportedly raised a total of INR1.5 trillion ($19 billion) from four players, with Reliance Jio splashing out more than half of the total spend to secure airwaves worth $11 billion.
An official statement from the nation’s regulator on the results is yet to be released, but Reuters reported India’s telecoms minister had announced the conclusion of the process, with companies acquiring 71 per cent of a total 72GHz spectrum on offer.
Bharti Airtel announced in its own statement it had acquired 19,800MHz of spectrum, securing a pan-Indian footprint in the 3.5GHz and 26GHz bands, in addition to bolstering its mid-band holding.
In total, Airtel won airwaves worth $5.4 billion: MD and CEO Gopal Vittal said the purchase was “part of a deliberate strategy to buy the best spectrum assets at a substantially lower price compared to our competition”.
Rounding out the spending, Vodafone Idea secured $2.4 billion worth of spectrum while new market entrant Adani Enterprises purchased nearly $27 million-worth, which it will use to offer private 5G network services.
The regulator’s decision to allocate some airwaves to enterprises for private networks had proved controversial with the country’s traditional operators, leading to speculation of a muted reaction to the spectrum auction.
Trade body Cellular Operators Association of India indicated Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea had estimated a potential 5G revenue loss of 40 per cent from the plan to include enterprises, and so planned tepid participation.
However, Kantipudi Pradeepthi, telecom research analyst at GlobalData, noted in a statement the total spend of $19 billion is an “encouraging” result and shows the telecoms sector is “ready for the expansion and 5G service rollout”.
She added “5G spectrum is crucial for Indian telcos to power their revenue growth by offering ultra-high speed wireless network services”.
Operators are expected to pull the trigger on 5G in October.