India’s spectrum auction sees muted response

India’s spectrum auction sees muted response


India’s Department of Telecommunication (DoT) completed its second 5G spectrum auction on Wednesday, with underwhelming results.

The auction sold 141.4 MHz of spectrum for US$1.35 billion, the third-lowest auction result since 2010. The lowest proceeds from an auction in India were collected in 2013, with the second lowest a year earlier.

“The 2024 spectrum auction was part of a continuous allocation process that is transparent, robust, and progressive,” said Jyotiraditya Scindia, minister of communications in a statement after the conclusion of the auction.

“Telecom service providers have acquired spectrum not only for the continuity of service but also for expanding their services. However, the volume is limited because a large portion of the required spectrum was auctioned last year (2022)," said a DoT spokesperson.

The auction began on June 25 and concluded a day later after seven rounds of bidding. Notably, there was no bidding activity in the 800 MHz, 2300 MHz, 3300 MHz, and 26 GHz bands. Of the 533.6 MHz of airwaves available, telecom companies purchased 141.4 MHz, or 26.5%.

Bharti Airtel emerged as the biggest spender, bidding for airwaves worth $833 million. The company acquired spectrum in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 2100 MHz bands.

Vodafone Idea secured the second spot, purchasing airwaves in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, and 2500 MHz bands for USD 426.6 million. Reliance Jio had a subdued presence in the auction, buying spectrum worth USD 118.3 million in the 1800 MHz band.

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