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The central government said the spectrum auctioned earlier this month can be used for deploying 5G services.

“Spectrum acquired through auction can be used to provide services using any technology including 5G,” Minister of State for Communications Sanjay Dhotre told Lok Sabha.

The government also said out of the total spectrum bid valuation of Rs 77,820.82 received, a total of Rs 21,918.48 crore as an upfront payment has been received in the financial year 2020-21.

However, the ₹77,000 plus crore payout for spectrum will add to the industry’s overall debt, taking it closer to ₹5-lakh crore. This will force operators to rethink on funding spectrum acquisition and new revenue models.

Bidders have acquired spectrum bands of 800 Mhz, 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz, 2100 Mhz and 2300 Mhz in the auction.

“A total of 3 bidders participated in the spectrum auction conducted in March 2021 and there were a total six rounds of bidding. Spectrum was sold in 74 LSA (licensed service area)-Band combinations.

“A total of 2308.80 MHz spectrum with a total valuation of Rs 40,0396.20 crore at reserve price was put to auction,” Dhotre said.

Recently, the government conducted an auction of spectrum in 700 MHz (megahertz), 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands in March 2021.

However, the 700 Mhz band failed to receive any bids for the second time due to its high reserve price.

This band is the most important band for 5G services as it has enough bandwidth to allow each operator to take up to 30-40 Mhz each.

Reliance Jio has acquired 133 Mhz of fresh spectrum in the 800 Mhz band.

Jio now has 10 Mhz spectrum for transmission and another 10 Mhz for receiving voice/data.

RJio also has at least 2X10 Mhz in the 1,800 Mhz band and 40 Mhz in the 2,300 Mhz band in each of the 22 circles.

Bharti Airtel has acquired 355.45 Mhz spectrum across sub-GHz frequency bands, which will help improve its deep indoor and in-building coverage in every urban town.

This will also help improve its coverage in villages by offering superior services to an additional 90 million customers in India

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