The government raised bids worth over Rs 1.5 trillion on the sixth day of the spectrum auction sale, with the government netting Rs 1.63 billion more on sixth day. The government’s total collections rose to Rs 1,501.30 billion at end of sixth day proceedings, with bidding set to resume on August 1, 2022 with round 38. The prime focus of the auction sale on the sixth day continued to be the 1800 MHz band of the Uttar Pradesh (UP) East market, where the competition witnessed healthy bidding. Owing to this, the per unit price of 1800 MHz spectrum in UP East circle surged to Rs 1.60 billion, almost 76.5 per cent higher than its Rs 910 million per MHz base price.

The proceedings of the fourth day and fifth day concluded with an increase of Rs 2.32 billion and 1.12 billion, taking its total proceeds from the sale to Rs 1,499.67 billion at end of the fifth day. The fourth day of the sale observed seven more rounds of bidding, with the per unit price of the 1800 MHz band increasing by 49 per cent over its base price, to Rs 1.35 billion for Uttar Pradesh (UP) East circle. Comprehending the healthy bidding for 1800 MHz spectrum in UP East circle, analysts estimate surge in the outflow for the 1800 MHz band pan India almost five times to Rs 100.57 billion from the base price of Rs 21.16 billion.

Meanwhile, the fifth day of the 5G auctions witnessed seven more rounds of bidding, but despite no excess demand in the final rounds, the per unit price of 1800 MHz spectrum in UP East was almost 60 per cent higher that its Rs 910 million base price, at Rs 1.46 billion. The fifth day of the 5G spectrum auctions witnessed the battle for 1800 MHz spectrum in the key UP East market easing out.

The outcome of the spectrum battle in UP East is crucial for Airtel as it has 5 MHz of liberalised 900 MHz spectrum, or airwaves bought in an auction, and another 6.2 MHz of un-liberalised spectrum in the same band in in that circle, expiring in February 2024. Un-liberalised airwaves are those allotted through the administrative route, or without auctions. The stakes are high in UP East circle for Airtel, which could face business challenges post-February 2024 if it doesn’t get at least 5MHz of back-up airwaves in the 1800 MHz band.

Addressing a press briefing, Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister of Communications, Electronics and Information Technology, asserted that the ministry will allocate the spectrum within few days of closure of spectrum auctions. Further, the minister also proclaimed that the 5G roll out can be expected by October 2022. With regard to apprehensions about the legal framework, Vaishnaw noted that the ministry is in the process of revising the legal framework to avoid disruption in the industry.