Ambani’s Reliance Jio emerges as top buyer in India’s $19 billion 5G deal – TechCrunch


New Delhi said on Monday India’s telecom operators agreed to spend $19 billion in a government auction of 5G airwaves, their most of any spectrum sale, as the world’s second-largest wireless market prepares to roll out improved and faster voice and data speeds .

Reliance Jio Infocomm, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea competed with each other for seven days and completed most of the acquisitions, buying 71% of all spectrum offered, which the government said exceeded expectations.

Telecommunications minister Ashwini Vaishnaw told a news conference on Monday that tycoon Mukesh Ambani’s Jio was the most radical player, whose backers include Google and Meta, Expenditure was $11.13 billion. Google-backed Airtel spent $5.44 billion, while Vodafone Idea, the Indian subsidiary of British giant Vodafone Group, and billionaire Kumar Mangalam’s Idea Cellular spent $2.37 billion.

Although India is the second-largest wireless market, it has been slow compared to several other markets in building networks for the rollout of 5G technology, which operators around the world say offers faster data speeds and may Play a major role in applications around innovations in industries such as autonomous mobility and telemedicine and robotics.

Analysts say the lure of faster speeds could help telcos, which have struggled with declining revenue in recent years, persuade consumers to pay more for data.

“We have always believed that India will emerge as the world’s leading economic power through the power of adopting breakthrough technologies. This is the vision and belief that gave birth to Jio. The speed, scale and social impact of Jio’s 4G rollout is unmatched anywhere in the world. Now, with With greater ambition and greater determination, Jio will lead India into the 5G era,” Akash Ambani, chairman of Reliance Jio Infocomm, said in a statement. “Jio is committed to delivering world-class, affordable 5G and 5G-enabled services. We will deliver services, platforms and solutions to accelerate India’s digital revolution, especially in education, healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing and e-government key areas.”

Reliance’s aggressive spending shows its growing digital ambitions. The oil giant launched its telecom business six years ago and is now India’s largest wireless operator with more than 420 million subscribers. By offering the best data prices, Jio won over users and forced the industry to lower tariffs, ushering in an era that has significantly boosted mobile data consumption in the South Asian country and benefited countless startups.

“The Hail Mary moment is when Reliance Jio enters the market. It democratizes data and smartphones on a scale we’ve never seen outside of China,” Karthik Reddy, a venture capitalist at early-stage venture firm Blume Ventures, said earlier. Time said in an interview with TechCrunch.

New Delhi said Reliance got spectrum in the 700MHz, 800MHz, 1800MHz, 3300MHz and 26GHz bands, Bharti Airtel got the 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 3300MHz and 26GHz bands, and Vodafone Idea got the 3300MHz and 26GHz bands.

India said it expects the rollout of 5G networks to begin in October and hopes that residents in several major cities will experience faster internet by the end of the year. Vaishnaw declared the auction of 5G airwaves a success for India and said the government was working to complete the allocation by August 10.

After the expected launch, smartphone makers have been selling 5G-capable phones in India for nearly two years. In fact, they have shipped more than 50 million 5G-compatible smartphones in the South Asian market, according to research firm Counterpoint, with a fifth of those arriving in the quarter ended June this year. India is also the second largest smartphone market in the world and one of the fastest growing.

“Acquiring spectrum in the most recent auction is part of our strategy to purchase the best spectrum assets at a lower relative cost than our competitors. This will allow us to raise the bar for innovation and meet every requirement in Emerging needs of discerning customers in India for the best experience,” Bharti Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal said in a statement.

The company of India’s richest man, Gautam Adani, also made its debut at the auction, but interest was largely limited, with a payout of just $26.8 million. The company said last month that it was participating in a spectrum auction to provide private network solutions that enhance cybersecurity in “airports, ports and logistics, power generation, transmission, distribution and various manufacturing operations.”



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