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The department of telecommunications (DoT) on Friday completed assigning spectrum to telecom operators who bought airwaves for 4G wireless service in the auction conducted in March. The government issued frequency assignment letters to bidders, according to an official statement.

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd paid 2,149.59 crore, while Bharti Airtel Ltd deposited 157.38 crore, taking the total to 2,306.97 crore received by the government for allocation of spectrum. Both the telcos made immediate payments, instead of the schedule in August-September, 2021, it said.

Airtel, Jio and Vodafone Idea Ltd participated in the two-day spectrum auction concluded on 2 March.

“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 government said.

It harmonized spectrum in the 800MHz band in 19 LSAs, 900MHz in 8 areas, 1,800MHz band in 21 areas, 2,100MHz band in three zones, and 2,300MHz band in 16 telecom circles. Spectrum harmonization allows efficient use of airwaves held by operators, leading to improved service quality for consumers.

The government sold 855.6MHz of spectrum worth 77,820.81 in the March auction. It had put up airwaves in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1,800MHz, 2,100MHz, 2,300MHz and 2,500MHz for sale. Of the total value of sold spectrum, the DoT received an upfront payment of 21,918.47 crore from the telecom operators on 18 March, the statement said.

Reliance Jio, India’s largest telco by market share, emerged as the top bidder, buying spectrum worth 57,122.65 crore in the first spectrum auction in more than four years. Airtel purchased spectrum worth 18,698.75 crore, while Vodafone Idea's participation was limited. It placed bids worth 1,993.40 crore, largely for spectrum renewal.

A total of 2,308.8MHz spectrum was put under the hammer. Of the seven bands available for auction, demand for 800MHz and 2,300MHz bands was the highest, while there were no takers for the 700MHz and 2,500MHz bands. The 700MHz band was unsold in two consecutive auctions due to high base price.

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