An extraordinary 5G spectrum auction that lasted a week is a win-win for all. The cash-strapped government, facing a huge fiscal deficit — estimated to be at 12 per cent in April and May this year as compared to eight per cent last year — will get a little over $1.5 lakh crores over 20 years.
The telecom operators, who bid conservatively in most airwave offerings, cherry-picked those wavelengths best suited to their expansion plans based on their current positions. They did not overbid as in earlier auctions, which had led to AGR dues piling up.
The consumer might well turn out to be king as he can expect better broadband services that are nearly equal to optic fibre service connectivity with uninterrupted service and unlimited bandwidth, besides lower latency than 3G and 4G. The 5G services may be up and running widely very soon, even as early as this month.
The subscriber may not have to pay fancy sums as 5G services have so far not fetched premium subscriptions globally, which operators found to their chagrin in the USA and Europe. Even so, the average revenue per user will rise for Indian operators too.
The impact of the rollout of 5G services should be felt all around but sectors like education could benefit the most even as IoT (Internet of Things) and other superconnectivity processes and devices will be better served.
Missing at the auction this time around was the zeal of operators to buy blind, which served more to satisfy the government’s enormous expectations of revenue from a natural resource like airwaves.
The Centre may have thought bids in excess of $4 lakh crores were possible since they have also promised reforms to remove constraints, like in spectrum sharing among operators. The mop-up is, however, nearly double the $77,815 crores worth 4G and around three times the $51,000 crores worth 3G airwaves sold in previous auctions....