After five days of bidding, the government of India closed that nation’s largest sale of wireless spectrum to date, garnering total proceeds of US$9.87 billion for 2,200 MHz of available frequencies in the 700-900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz bands.  Provisional results of the auction, which ended last Thursday, show that the bid total fell far short of the government’s goal of U.S. $84 billion and that half of the available spectrum, including all available channels in the 700 MHz and 900 MHz bands, went unsold.  However, for each of the seven participants—Vodafone India, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Idea Cellular, Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, and Aircel—the auction proved to be a success insofar as each carrier gained access to airwaves that will enable them to enhance or expand fourth-generation wireless coverage. 

Vodafone, the top spender with total bids of US$3 billion, acquired channels in the 1800 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.5 GHz bands which, in the words of a company spokesman, “significantly enhances the coverage, capacity and speed of [Vodafone’s] 4g data services in its key [telecom] circles.”  Indian market leader Bharti Airtel posted $2.3 billion in winning bids for spectrum in the 1800 MHz, 2.1 GHz and 2.3 GHz bands, while Idea Cellular—India’s third-ranked wireless carrier—bid $1.92 billion for an additional 349.2 MHz of spectrum in the 1800 MHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.3 GHz and 2.5 GHz bands. 

Upstart carrier Reliance Jio, meanwhile, paid US$2.05 billion for an additional 259 MHz allotment, which a spokesman said would “[expand] our footprint, thereby significantly enhancing capacity of our all IP data . . . network.”  Collectively, the winners will be required to submit US$4.78 billion in upfront payments and remit the remaining balance of their bids in installments.