India now closes multiband auction to roll out 5G

India closed its huge multiband spectrum auction on 1 August 2022. TRAI, India’s telecoms regulator, announced the results. That was the biggest spectrum auction ever with the proceeds totalling INR 1.5tn (€18.57bn).

Complex but fast auction

The auction started on 26 July 2022 and closed after 40 bidding rounds spread over seven days, India Briefing reported. Spectrum in the frequency bands 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz goes to the successful bidders: Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Adani Group.

And the winner is…

Reliance Jio was the top bidder and will pay INR 880.78bn (€10.91bn), followed by Bharti Airtel who will pay INR 430.84bn (€5.34bn). Vodafone will pay INR 187.99bn (€2.33bn). Adani Group bid for the 26 GHz band to set up their private telecom network.

The above amounts reflect the spectrum won. Reliance Jio won a total of 24.74 GHz across the bands 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1800 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz. Bharti Airtel followed with 19.867 GHz across the bands 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz. Further, Vodafone Idea won 6.228 GHz across the bands 800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz.

TRAI set the reserve prices 35-40% lower than the 2018 level. From 2022 onwards, it will not charge the spectrum usage charge. As a result, the effective costs incurred by the operators decreased by 40-50%. Despite all that, the auction became the most expensive ever.

What’s next

The operators should start the network rollout in the biggest cities in August 2022 already. A full-scale rollout, including in smaller cities, is expected in 2023/2024.

After India successfully closed the multiband spectrum auction, the Department of Telecommunications is preparing the sale of additional 5,500 MHz in the band 37-42.5 GHz for INR 350bn (€4.33bn).

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