Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The conclusion of the two-day auction of the telecom spectrum on Tuesday saw airwaves worth ₹77, 814, 80 crores being sold, with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio getting the biggest chunk of the pie. Jio bought 488.35 MHz radio waves worth ₹57,122.65 crores, in 22 circles across the country.

At the same time, rival Vodafone India Ltd (VI) picked up spectrum worth ₹1,993.40 crores in five circles and is set to boost 4G coverage and capacity. Bharti Airtel also bought radio waves worth ₹18,699 crores in the auction.

Telecom Department Secretary Anshu Prakash announced the rounds of bidding on Tuesday ended at 12:45 pm, yielding results that were “better than expected.” While bids were received in 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz bands, the 700 and 2500 MHz bands remained unsold. Four rounds of bidding (two each with stipulated activity levels of 80% and 90%) took place on Monday, two more rounds were held on Tuesday with a stipulated activity level of 100%. 60% of the total spectrum was sold in the auction.

The operators have “consolidated their positions in the bands in which they were operating and taken spectrum in particular bands where they felt they had less spectrum,” Prakash said.

The government said that the auction would mean that they would receive “revenue of about ₹19,000 crore to ₹20,000 crores in FY21. We expect this exercise to take about 10-15 days. Upfront payment of over ₹15,000 crore is expected this fiscal. Balance ₹10,000 crore-11,000 crores to come by next fiscal,” it said.

After the auction was concluded, Ambani said that Jio had completely revolutionized India’s digital landscape, with the country becoming the faster adopter of Digital Life. “We want to ensure that we keep on enhancing experiences, not only for our existing customers but also for the next 300 million users that will move to digital services. With our increased spectrum footprint, we are ready to further expand the digital footprint in India as well as get ourselves ready for the imminent 5G rollout. Through this acquisition, Jio’s total owned spectrum footprint has increased significantly, by 55 percent to 1,717 MHz,” he said. Jio currently has the highest amount of sub-GHz spectrum, with 2X10 MHz contagious spectrum in most circles.

“With the deployment of additional spectrum acquired in this auction in the networks of Telecom Service Providers, the Quality of Service and customer experience of telecom consumers across the country are expected to improve,” the Telecom Ministry said in a statement.

The Spectrum Usage Charges (SUC) for the spectrum acquired in the auction will be payable at the rate of 3% of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of the licensee, excluding revenue from wireline services, it was revealed.

The spectrum acquired from the auction would go on to be used for transition to 5G services at the appropriate time, Jio said. The telco added that it has enhanced network capacity to service its existing users as well as hundreds of millions of more subscribers on its network.