The 5G Boom: Fast & Furious Network Days Are Here

In total, the government sold 71 per cent of the entire spectrum put up for sale, raising INR 1,50,173 crore

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Will India witness a pan-India 5G roll out this 76th Independence Day? It is to watchout for after Reliance Jio emerged as the top bidder for the 5G auction on Monday.

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"We will celebrate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav with a pan-India 5G rollout. Jio is committed to offering world-class, affordable 5G and 5G-enabled services. We will provide services, platforms and solutions that will accelerate India's digital revolution, especially in crucial sectors such as education, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing and e-governance," said Akash M. Ambani, chairman, Reliance Jio Infocomm, in a statement.

Reliance Jio spent INR 88,078 crore and acquired a total of 24.7 GHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 1800 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz bands.

India's second largest telco Bharti Airtel shelled out INR 43,084 crore to pick up 19.867 GHz of spectrum across 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz bands.

Vodafone Idea spent around INR 18,799 crore, picking up 6.228 GHz of airwaves across 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz bands.

The fourth applicant, Adani Data Networks Limited, a subsidiary of the Adani Group acquired spectrum only in the 26 GHz band and spent INR 212 crore. The company has maintained that its entry in the space is only for enterprise solutions and not for consumer mobility.

In total, the government has sold 71 per cent of the entire spectrum put up for a grab, raising an amount worth INR 1,50,173 crore. Out of the total 72 GHz that was up for sale, 51.2 GHz of spectrum was sold. "The total spectrum sold is good enough for covering all circles in the country, estimating good coverage of 5G in the next two-three years," Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union minister of communications, told media.

"We expect the 5G roll-out to happen from the beginning of October and within a year or so, we should have a good rollout in the country," the minister added.

5G & its perks

The 5G network is the fifth generation of cellular networks which can create a smarter, safer and more sustainable future. It runs on the same radio frequencies that are currently being used for smartphones, on Wi-Fi networks and in satellite communications.

"The 5G network will do much more than significantly improve network connection. It provides new opportunities, enabling us to deliver groundbreaking solutions that reach across society. From smartphones to smart factories, 5G is the open innovation platform that enables society to take the leap towards a smarter, safer and sustainable future," according to a report by Ericsson.

The advent of the 5G network is already showing a positive trend in smartphone shipment.

"The 5G smartphone shipment share reached 29 per cent of overall shipments in Q2 2022, which was the highest ever. The 5G auction and commercial availability will accelerate 5G smartphone adoption among users. The smartphone retail ASP (average selling price) is also witnessing a growth trend. The growth in upper and premium segments is primarily due to the availability of financing schemes aimed at increasing device affordability," said research analyst Shilpi Jain of Counterpoint research in a release.

Previous auctions

The government wrapped up an auction for 4G airwaves, generating INR 77,814.80 crore in proceeds, in March 2021. Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, had topped the bid with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea mostly bidding to renew airwave permits which were expiring in July last year.

Reliance Jio had bought radio airwaves worth INR 57,122.65 crore in the first spectrum auction in more than four years. Bharti Airtel Ltd purchased spectrum worth INR 18,698.75 crore, while Vodafone Idea Ltd's (VIL's) placed bids worth INR 1,993.40 crore, largely for spectrum renewal.

This time Reliance Jio bought the premium 700 MHz which remained unsold in the last bid for its higher reserve price. Despite the advantages of the premium band, it remained unsold in the auctions of 2021 and 2016 as well.