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Spectrum auction bids reach Rs 96,000 cr on 7th day

PTI     March 11, 2015

Bids for spectrum grew to around Rs 96,000 crore at the end of seventh day of auction on Wednesday, after surprisingly dipping to Rs 92,200 crore on Tuesday for the biggest-ever sale of 2G and 3G airwaves.

"Till now, 43 rounds of bidding has taken place. At present, over 84 per cent of the spectrum has been provisionally allocated to bidders at a value of approximately Rs 96,000 crore," the Department of Telecom said.

"The bidding is taking place in all bands. Brisk bidding was seen on 7th day of bidding, with activity requirement set at 100 per cent. There is aggressive bidding going on in 1800 MHz, 900 MHz and 800 MHz bands," the statement said.

There is still spectrum which is yet to be sold in all the bands, including 900 Mhz which is the spectrum currently held by operators whose licences are expiring in 2015-16.

"Bidding would recommence tomorrow," it added.

The government on Saturday had crossed the targeted minimum amount of Rs 82,000 crore from sale of airwaves.

Incumbents Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are locked with Reliance Jio to protect the spectrum they need to carry voice and data in the world's second-biggest smartphone market. In all, eight bidders are in the fray.

Breaking down the bidding activity band wise, sources said so far in the 800 MHz band, out of 20 circles that were put on sale, 14 circles have seen activity, while in the 2100 MHz band, 14 circles have seen activity out of the total 17.

In the 900 Mhz band, all 17 circles have seen activity, whereas in 1800 MHz 13 circles have seen activity so far out of the total 15 circles, they added.

"There was good activity seen in 800 Mhz and 900 Mhz band, decent in 1800 Mhz. There was slight movement in 2100 Mhz band," sources said.

The government will not release results of the auction as a case in pending before the Supreme Court. The next hearing on the case is on March 26.

A total of 380.75 MHz of spectrum is on offer in the premium 900 MHz band, 1,800 MHz and 800 MHz, while 5 MHz is up for bidding in the 2,100 MHz band across 17 out of 22 telecom areas or circles in the country.

Most of the spectrum put up for auction is at present held by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea and Reliance Telecom. Their licences are expiring in 2015-16. Licences for 9 circles of Idea Cellular, 6 circles of Airtel and 7 circles each of Vodafone and Reliance Telecom are coming up for renewal.

The 3G and BWA auction together fetched the government over Rs 1.05 lakh crore in 2010. The government had raked in Rs 62,162 crore from the last spectrum auction held in February 2014.

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