Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Vodafone Idea submitted bids to participate in the upcoming 5G spectrum auction

Indian telecom operators Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea will compete to secure additional spectrum for 5G services in an upcoming auction, according to local press reports.

India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) confirmed that it received the applications of these three telcos by the deadline for applying.

In the upcoming auction, 5G airwaves in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 2.5 GHz, 3.3 GHz and 26 GHz bands will be up for sale.

The reports stated that 5G spectrum will be assigned for 20 years and successful bidders will be allowed to make payments in 20 equal annual instalments.

The DoT will publish details of the applicants on May 10. The last date for withdrawal of applications is May 17, and the final list of bidders is scheduled to be announced on May 20, according to the reports.

DoT recently decided to postpone the spectrum auction from May 20 to June 6 to allow the process to take place after the country’s general elections. India’s general election is slated to start on April 19, while the results are expected to be revealed on June 4.

According to sources with knowledge of the matter, the auction is expected to draw only draw a few bids from Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea for renewing their frequencies.

The permits of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea will expire in 2024 in some of India’s geographic circles. Airtel’s airwave renewals this year are in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands in the circles of J&K, Odisha, Bihar, UP-East, West Bengal and Assam. Vodafone Idea faces spectrum renewals in West Bengal (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) and UP-West (900 MHz).

Earlier this year, the DoT confirmed it will not auction the 600 MHz band in the upcoming spectrum auction, as the body aims to conduct more studies to ensure there is no interference with satellite operations.

According to local newspaper The Economic Times, an official had said that India wanted to be part of the countries offering IMT in 600 MHz, but that this was opposed by China. The 600 MHz spectrum band was put on sale in the last auction in August 2022, but it remained unsold.

India completed its first 5G spectrum auction in July 2022. Reliance Jio walked away with the most spectrum, having spent $11 billion. Airtel won spectrum worth $5.4 billion, while Vodafone received spectrum worth $2.4 billion. Finally, Adani purchased spectrum worth approximately $27 million, which it will use to offer private 5G network services.

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