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Department of Telecommunications plans to hold next round of 5G auctions by February

Analysts said some 900Mhz and 1800Mhz bands in eight circles are up for renewal that can be used for 5G

R. Suryamurthy New Delhi Published 27.12.23, 11:24 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The Department of Telecommunications plans to hold the next round of 5G auctions in January-February, with the same reserve price as in the 2022 auction.

The DoT has not decided on the spectrum bands for sale.

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Analysts said some 900Mhz and 1800Mhz bands in eight circles are up for renewal that can be used for 5G.

The renewal is due in February in Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West), Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, North-East and Odisha. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea hold the radio waves.

Analysts said Airtel would bid in circles where its spectrum is expiring. Vodafone Idea, which is under a severe cash crunch, will be a muted participant. They expect Reliance Jio to bid for some fresh spectrum.

However, overall the auction would be a dull affair and unlikely to see any significant action.

As regulator Trai has declined to provide fresh reserve prices for any spectrum bands already used by telcos, the DoT is likely to go with the August 2022 auction base price.

In the last 5G auction, the 900 MHz band’s reserve price per MHz varied from Rs 14 crore in North East to Rs 436 crore in Delhi on a circle-to-circle basis.

One block of spectrum across all licensed areas in the country will, therefore, cost around Rs 731.6 crore on the base price.

In the 1800 MHz band, the reserve price per MHz varied from Rs 8 crore in North East to Rs 270 crore in Delhi; and one block will cost around Rs 423.2 crore on the base price.

Bharti Airtel’s managing director and chief executive officer Gopal Vittal had said the company will spend a lot less on future spectrum auctions as it does not require additional airwaves.

“I would not imagine that the company needs further spectrum for some time to come.

“The only place where some small chunks of spectrum may be needed is renewable spectrum in three or four circles, but it is a function of the traffic pattern,” Vittal had said during the July-September quarter earnings call.

In the 2022 auction, the government put 72,097.85MHz for sale with a validity period of 20 years.

Reliance Jio spent Rs 88,078 crore towards the 5G spectrum, followed by Bharti Airtel at Rs 43,084 crore and Vodafone Idea at Rs 18,799 crore.

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