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The 5G spectrum auction, capable of offering ultra-high-speed internet, until Sunday received bids worth 1,50,130 crore. The bids reached over 1.50 lakh crore amid pick-up in demand for radiowaves in the UP East circle which includes Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, and Kanpur. The development has pushed the bidding to the seventh day on Monday.

Seven new rounds of bidding held on the sixth day of auction on Sunday 'dialled in' an incremental 163 crore, propelling the cumulative spectrum sale beyond the 1.50 lakh crore-mark.

As per the data by the telecom department, the auction has fetched provisional bids worth 1,50,130 crore in the first six days.

The demand had eased on Saturday but picked up on Sunday as UP East circle saw bidding activity escalate once again for 1800 MHz, a band primarily used by telcos for 4G services.

UP East - which has over 10 crore mobile subscribers - accounted for all of the incremental spectrum sales on Sunday.

Among those, as of May 2022, Reliance Jio had 3.29 mobile subscribers in UP East, Bharti Airtel (3.7 crore) and Vodafone Idea (2.02 crore).

The bidding intensity for 1800 MHz band in Uttar Pradesh East circle had peaked between Wednesday and Friday. It subsided on Saturday, only to pick up back again on Sunday.

All the three private operators are said to be keen on topping up their holdings in this band in UP East, as radiowaves in 900 MHz band are not available. The bidding will resume on Monday and interest will be heightened on this circle.

The auction timelines would depend on how the bidding progresses through the day.

Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said the 5G spectrum auction underscored that industry wants to expand. "The auction results are very good, close to 1,49,966 crore has been committed by the industry for buying the spectrum," Vaishnaw had said.

He said that the reserve price fixed for spectrum is a "fair number", adding that it was visible from the auction outcome.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio, Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and a unit of billionaire Gautam Adani's flagship Adani Enterprises are in the race to bid for the 5G spectrum.

In all, 72 GHz (gigahertz) of radiowaves worth at least 4.3 lakh crore is on the block in the 2022 auction. The auction is being held for spectrum in various low (600 MHz, 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz, 2500 MHz), mid (3300 MHz) and high (26 GHz) frequency bands.

(With agency inputs)

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