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Government Completes 5G Spectrum Harmonisation Process, Allocation by August 12

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Within days of conducting 5G auctions, the government has completed the spectrum ‘harmonisation’ process, paving the way for players’ holdings to be streamlined within a particular band for greater efficiency, Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw has said.

The spectrum harmonisation process, critical for 5G services, brings together a bunch of radio wave holdings within a band into one contiguous block with the consensus of all telecom service providers.

Vaishnaw told PTI that the government is on course for the timely allocation of radiowaves bought by players (in the auction) by August 12. The process of approvals from the Committee of Secretaries has also been completed.

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“In one single day, we have completed the spectrum harmonisation process, which happens after every auction,” the minister said.

The harmonisation of the spectrum leads to greater efficiencies for players, as chunks of radio-wave holdings in one band are brought together or consolidated with the consensus of all players.

“The promise we made that we will allocate spectrum by August 12…we are on time,” Vaishnaw said.

A telecom department official, explaining the concept of spectrum harmonisation, drew a parallel with distributed land holdings with gaps being brought together into contiguous holding.

India’s biggest ever auction of telecom spectrum that concluded on August 1 (Monday) received a record Rs 1.5 lakh crore of bids, with Mukesh Ambani’s Jio cornering nearly half of all the airwaves sold with an Rs 88,078 crore bid.

Richest Indian Gautam Adani’s group, whose entry in the auction was billed by some as another flash point in the rivalry with Ambani, paid Rs 212 crore for 400 MHz, or less than one per cent of all spectrum sold, in a band that is not used for offering public telephony services.

Telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal’s Bharti Airtel made a successful bid of Rs 43,084 crore, while Vodafone Idea Ltd bought spectrum for Rs 18,799 crore.

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Of the 72,098 MHz of spectrum offered across 10 bands, 51,236 MHz, or 71 per cent, was sold.

After every auction, the separate holdings of an individual player in a band are brought together through the harmonisation process. All the players have to be in agreement for such shifting and consolidation to take place, a process that normally takes months.

“It is a difficult process but we have completed the harmonisation process in one single day. The team has worked very meticulously,” Vaishnaw said.

Reliance Jio Infocomm has obtained 24,740 MHz spectrum in 700, 800, 1800, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz. Adani Data Networks Ltd obtained a 400 MHz spectrum in the 26 GHz band, suitable for captive networks.

Bharti Airtel has obtained 19,867.8 MHz in 900, 1800, 2100, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz bands. Vodafone Idea Ltd bought 6,228 MHz spectrum in 1800, 2100, 2500, 3300 MHz and 26 GHz.

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Spectrum refers to the radio frequencies allocated to the mobile industry and other sectors for communication over the airwaves. This includes FM or AM radio broadcasts and even other wireless forms of communication like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

Mobile phones also use this radiowaves to transmit voice calls and data. These frequencies come in different bands, supporting specific technologies, as well as governing the speed of transmission. The quantum of spectrum in each band is measured in MHz.

Typically, 5G offers speeds about 10 times faster than 4G, lag-free connectivity, and can enable billions of connected devices to share data in real-time.

In addition to powering ultra-low latency connections, which allow downloading full-length high-quality video or movie to a mobile device in a matter of seconds (even in crowded areas), the fifth Generation or 5G would enable solutions such as e-health, connected vehicles, more-immersive augmented reality and metaverse experiences, life-saving use cases, and advanced mobile cloud gaming, among others.


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Department of Telecom Said to Receive Rs. 17,876 Crore From Operators as Upfront Payment for 5G Spectrum

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The Department of Telecom (DoT) has received upfront payment of around Rs 17,876 crore from Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Adani Data Networks and Vodafone Idea for spectrum they won in a recent auction, according to sources. While all telecom operators have opted to make payments in 20 annual installments, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 8,312.4 crore equivalent to four annual installments.

Reliance Jio has made payment of Rs. 7,864.78 crore, Vodafone Idea Rs. 1,679.98 crore and Adani Data Networks Rs. 18.94 crore.

“DoT has received a total payment of around Rs. 17,876 crore. Only Bharti Airtel has paid for four annual installments at one go,” an official source said.

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The country’s biggest-ever auction of telecom spectrum received a record Rs. 1.5 lakh crore worth of bids, with Mukesh Ambani’s Jio cornering nearly half of all airwaves sold with a Rs. 87,946.93 crore bid.

Gautam Adani’s group has placed bids worth Rs 211.86 crore for the 400 MHz in a band that is not used for offering public telephony services.

Telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal’s Bharti Airtel made a successful bid of Rs. 43,039.63 crore, while Vodafone Idea Ltd bought spectrum for Rs. 18,786.25 crore.

On Wednesday, telecom operator Airtel announced that it had paid Rs. 8,312.4 crore to the Department of Telecom towards dues for spectrum acquired in the recently concluded 5G auctions.

With the payment, Airtel has paid four years of 2022 spectrum dues upfront. The company had an option to pay Rs. 3,848.88 crore upfront and the rest in 19 annual instalments.

Airtel said it believes that this upfront payment, coupled with the moratorium on spectrum dues and AGR (adjusted gross revenue)-related payments for four years, will free up future cash flows and allow Airtel to dedicate resources to single-mindedly concentrate on the 5G rollout.


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Jio Leads Race in Adding Mobile Subscribers in June; Airtel, Vodafone Idea Significantly Behind: TRAI

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Jio showed a net wireless subscriber growth of 4.2 million in June 2022, as per the latest monthly report released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Airtel came second with a net growth of 7,93,132 users, whereas MTNL, BSNL, and Vodafone Idea reportedly lost users. The TRAI report mentions that the total wireless subscribers jumped from 1,145.5 million at the end of May to 1,147.39 million at the end of June. It also reveals that private players control nearly 90 percent of the market share in India.

According to the latest TRAI report, Jio showed a net growth of 4.2 million wireless users by the end of June. It is said to have experienced a monthly growth of 1.03 percent. The total subscriber base of Jio reportedly stands at 413.01 million users, which has allowed it to hold 36 percent of the market share.

Airtel was significantly behind with a net growth of 793,132 wireless users during the same period, as per the TRAI report. It still reportedly has 362.97 million wireless users in India. Despite recording a monthly growth rate of only 0.22 percent, the telecom provider grasps 31.63 percent of the market share.

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Notably, Jio and Airtel were the only two telecom providers that reportedly clocked an increase in their subscriber count. Vodafone Idea reportedly lost a total of 1.8 million wireless users in June 2022. It reportedly still has the third largest wireless userbase with a total of 256.65 million users, which is said to be 22.37 percent of the total market share.

BSNL and MTNL, the two government-run telecom providers, are said to have only 10 percent of the market share. BSNL has a total of 111.52 million wireless users after losing 1.3 million users in June, the report says.

The report also mentions that Haryana added the most wireless subscribers with a growth rate of 1.77 percent. Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir lost 4.18 percent of its wireless subscribers in June.


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Airtel Pays Rs. 8.3 Crore to DoT as Advance Instalment for Recently Purchased 5G Spectrum

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Telecom operator Bharti Airtel has paid Rs. 8,312.4 crore to the Department of Telecom (DoT) towards dues for spectrum acquired in the recently concluded 5G auctions, the company said on Wednesday.

With the payment, Airtel has paid four years of 2022 spectrum dues upfront.

Airtel said it believes that this upfront payment, coupled with the moratorium on spectrum dues and AGR (adjusted gross revenue)-related payments for four years, will free up future cash flows and allow Airtel to dedicate resources to single-mindedly concentrate on the 5G rollout.

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Telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal’s Bharti Airtel made a successful bid of Rs. 43,039.63 crore.

“This upfront payment of 4 years allows us to drive 5G rollout in a concerted manner given our operating free cash flow. Airtel also has access to Rs. 15,740.5 crore in capital from the rights issue, which is yet to be called.

“With the ideal spectrum bank, best technology and adequate free cash flow, we are excited to bring to the country a world-class 5G experience,” Bharti Airtel MD and CEO Gopal Vittal said in the statement.

The company had an option to pay Rs. 3,848.88 crore upfront and the rest in 19 annual instalments.

The country’s biggest ever auction of telecom spectrum received a record Rs. 1.5 lakh crore worth of bids, with Mukesh Ambani’s Jio cornering nearly half of all the airwaves sold with Rs. 87,946.93 crore bid.

Over the last one year, Airtel said it has also cleared Rs. 24,333.7 crore of its deferred spectrum liabilities much ahead of scheduled maturities.

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