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Reliance Jio spends $11bn at India 5G auction

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Reliance Jio has spent around US$11 billion at India’s 5G spectrum auction, paving the way for its 5G rollout.

The operator, which is India’s largest and most prominent, acquired spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz, 3300MHz and 26GHz frequency bands.

India’s government plans to begin its 5G rollout in October and the country’s telecoms minister said that operators had bought 71% of 72GHz spectrum offered in the auction.

Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s telecom minister told a press briefing: "We understand that the spectrum purchased is good enough to cover all the circles in the country.”

He added that India’s 5G coverage will be “very good” over the next three years.

The auction was concluded on Monday with Bharti Airtel winning US$5.4 billion worth of spectrum and Vodafone winning US$2.4 billion worth.

Adani, one of the newer entries to the auction, acquired almost US$27 million worth of spectrum although it does not plan to offer consumer services and will enter the private 5G network space.

The Indian telco market was disrupted by Reliance Jio’s free calls and ultra-cheap data play in 2016 resulting in a reduction in the number of telcos operating in the country.

The players making up India’s cash-strapped telecoms sector have so far struggled with burgeoning debts from previous auctions; however, it is expected that the 5G rollout will aid its recovery.

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