The auction of 5G spectrum for ultra high speed internet services will stretch to the fourth day on Friday, after 16 rounds of bidding conducted so far fetched bids worth Rs 1,49,623 crore.
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 5G spectrum, that offers speeds about 10 times faster than 4G and lag-free connectivity.
Telecom Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw on Thursday said 16 rounds of bidding have been completed in three days and the auction will continue on Friday.
Bids worth Rs 1,49,623 crore have been received at the end of the third day, the minister said.
This is marginally higher than Rs 1,49,454 crore-worth bids received at the end of the ninth round on Wednesday, the second day of the auction.
According to sources, high interest continued to be seen for spectrum in 1800 MHz band in UP East circle, where Jio and Airtel were involved in intense bidding on Thursday.
Bidding interest was seen across multiple bands and the industry is committed to taking services to rural areas, the minister said.
A total of 72 GHz (Gigahertz) of radiowaves worth at least Rs 4.3 lakh crore is on the block.
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.
On July 26, the first day of the auction, bids worth Rs 1.45 lakh crore were received. The government said the response of day one exceeded all expectations and surpassed 2015 records.
On the second day of the auction, the bids received rose to Rs 1,49,454 crore.
"The sector is coming with new energy, and that is reflected in response to 5G auctions," Vaishnaw had told reporters on Wednesday.
As per the process, it will not be known until the auction concludes as to which company got how much of airwaves.
In addition to powering ultra-low latency connections, 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.