5G auction: Small circle, big battle

UP (East) sees intense bidding & price escalation.

5G auction
Of the total 72 GHz spectrum put on auction, a total of 51 GHz has been sold so far.

The 5G auction, which will continue for the fourth day on Friday, on Thursday saw telecom operators fighting for a slice in a small circle. It wasn’t a battle for 5G spectrum bands in metros or category A circles, rather there was an intense competition for 4G spectrum in the 1,800 MHz band and that too in a B category circle of Uttar Pradesh (East). Seen from the point of increase in bid value, there’s been hardly any change in the last two days of auction. On Wednesday, total bids worth Rs 149,454 crore were received and, on Thursday, it moved to Rs 149,623 crore — a mere increase of Rs 169 crore.

While bidding in the other bands has remained stagnant, it’s the 1,800 MHz band in UP (E) which witnessed an increase in the last three days with outflows at Rs 983 crore, Rs 1,058 crore and Rs 1,227 crore, respectively.

The reason for this intense fight for the UP (E) circle could be that it’s the most populous – a population of around 145 million and subscriber base of 90 million. Of this, Bharti Airtel has the highest subscribers at 37.47 million, followed by Reliance Jio at 32.93 million and Vodafone Idea at 20.23 million.

In terms of spectrum holding in 1,800 MHz, again it’s Bharti which has the highest at 16 MHz, while both Jio and Vodafone Idea have 10 MHz each.

In terms of auction rounds, Thursday saw the highest in the last three days with seven rounds. On the first day, four rounds were held, and on the second day, there were five rounds.

Communications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday said that it is a very healthy and positive sign that the auction is continuing.

Of the total 72 GHz spectrum put on auction, a total of 51 GHz has been sold so far.

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