Spectrum auctions fetch Rs 77,815 cr

India’s first auction of telecom spectrum in five years ended on Tuesday with Rs 77,814.80 crore of airwaves being acquired, mostly by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio which picked up spectrum for Rs 57,122.65 crore.

About 2,308.80 MHz of spectrum, that carry telecom signals in seven bands worth nearly Rs 4 lakh crore at the reserve price, was up for bidding in the auction. Although the spectrum finally acquired by telcos fell woefully short of this overall kitty and was acquired only at the reserve price, the Telecom Department said it is satisfied with the outcome as the numbers had exceeded internal estimates despite the pandemic and stress in the telecom industry.

Of the total proceeds, the government would get Rs 19,000-20,000 crore in the current financial year and Rs 6,000-7,000 crore would accrue in the next fiscal as the auction offers bidders the option of upfront and deferred payment (in annual installments).

Jio cornered more than half of the telecom spectrum that was finally auctioned by the government over the past two days, offering about Rs 57,123 crore to consolidate its holding of the scarce resource that are used to carry mobile call and data signals.

Jio bagged 488.35 MHz spectrum in bands such as 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2300 MHz.

Telecom giant Bharti Airtel bid about Rs 18,699 crore to pick up 355.45 megahertz (MHz) out of the total 855.60 MHz of radio frequency acquired by telcos, giving it “most formidable” spectrum holding in the country.

Vodafone Idea Ltd, which is facing a huge liability of unpaid statutory dues of past, bought 11.80 Mhz of spectrum worth Rs 1,993.40 crore. However, airwaves in the premium 700 MHz and 2,500 MHz bands went unsold.

Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash said 855.60 MHz of spectrum was bought for Rs 77,814.80 crore in the two-day auction. Airwaves come in different bands which support different propagation characteristics for transmission of voice and data. For instance, lower bands like 800 MHz and 900 MHz support a good indoor coverage while higher bands like 2300 MHz have a good carrying capacity.