April 17, 2021 6:29:59 am
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Friday said it had completed the assignment of frequencies to the successful bidders of spectrum auctions that took place in March this year.
“The frequency assignment was accompanied by a frequency harmonization exercise, whereby spectrum blocks assigned to telecom service providers (TSPs) in the current spectrum auction have been made contiguous with the spectrum blocks already held by them, wherever possible, in various bands in different licensed service areas (LSAs),” the DoT said in a release.
As a part of the frequency assignment exercise, the DoT also accepted requests from Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJio) to assign immediately available unsold spectrum blocks in the same band and LSAs instead of the spectrum blocks assigned to them from later dates. In doing so, the government managed to raise nearly Rs 2,307 crore from the two telcos immediately, instead of getting this money in the second half of the calendar year, i.e. by August or September 2021.
While Bharti Airtel paid Rs 158.4 crore for getting the immediately available unsold spectrum assigned, RJio paid Rs 2149.6 crore.
Earlier in March, the DoT had, in the spectrum auctions that lasted less than two days, managed to raise Rs 77,800 crore by selling 855.60 MHz of spectrum.
RJio emerged as the highest bidder in the 4G auctions, having bid for 488.35 MHz of the total 855.60 MHz spectrum.
Bharti Airtel was not far behind and bought 335.45 MHz of the total available spectrum sold.
On the other hand, Vi (formerly Vodafone Idea) — which had a gross debt of roughly Rs 1.18 lakh crore as of June 2020 — bought only 11.8 MHz spectrum.
For the auctions this time, the Centre put on offer frequencies in the 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz, and 2,500 MHz bands. A total 2,251 MHz of spectrum for a reserve price of Rs 3.92 lakh crore was up for bidding, on which the government managed to sell 855.60 MHz. All the spectrum was sold at base price, with maximum bidding in the 800 MHz frequency band. Of the total 230 MHz spectrum available in the 800 MHz band, about 150 MHz or 65 per cent was sold. However, there was no bidding in the 700 MHz and the 2,500 MHz bands this time.
Among the three telcos, RJio had spent over Rs 57,100 crore for buying spectrum in three bands — the 800 MHz, 1,800 MHz and 2,300 MHz bands; while rival Bharti Airtel spent close to Rs 18,700 crore for buying spectrum in five frequency bands — the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, and 2,300 MHz bands.
The least bidding was done by Vi, which bought only about 11.8 MHz spectrum at the auctions, spending close to Rs 1,990 crore.
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