Mumbai leads in 3G auction, pan-India licence now Rs.8,382 cr


New Delhi: India Monday concluded 82 rounds of spectrum auction for third generation telecom services in the country, with Mumbai attracting the highest bid and the provisional winning price for a nationwide licence reaching Rs.8,382.48 crore.

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The provisional winning price for a nationwide licence was 139.5 percent higher than Rs.3,500 crore reserve price fixed by the government.

At the end of the 14th day of the auction, which began April 9, the provisional winning price for Mumbai stood at Rs.1,252.32 crore, but only two players were in the fray against the three available slots, according to data available on the Department of Telecommunications’ (DoT) website.

Delhi, which had remained the favourite amongst bidders for long, received a bid at Rs.1,209.66 crore, followed by Maharashtra whose bid value stood at Rs.823.77 crore.

Uttar Pradesh (East) and Madhya Pradesh could not attract even a single player, the data showed.

Slots for three-four players are available in each of the 22 circles into which the country has been geographically divided for the 3G services, which will facilitate much faster connectivity than what is available now and enable applications such as Internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange.

The government has already given Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) spectrum for 3G services on the condition that they will pay the same licence fee as would be levied on private players after the auction.

Along with the fee that will be eventually paid by the two state-run enterprises for the licences, the government will provisionally get at least Rs.33,894.62 crore from the auction.

This is on the presumption that every available slot gets filled at the provisionally approved price.

The government hopes to rake in Rs.50,000 crore from the ongoing auction to award radio frequency spectrum for 3G telecom services and for rolling out broadband wireless internet services.

Nine telecom companies — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Aircel, Etisalat, S Tel and Videocon Telecommunications — are participating in the online auction.

This is a simultaneous auction for 22 circles over a secure website. At each round, the price is hiked from between 10-1 percent based on demand.

The auction is being held from 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. on all days, except Sundays and national holidays. The process will end only when the demand is equal to the number of slots available in each circle.

According to a senior DoT official, it may take another two-three weeks for the auction to be completed.

The bid data, including the winning companies’ names, will be made public after the auction’s completion and approval by the government. The winning firms will have to deposit the money within 10 days after the auction.

The successful bidders would be allowed to offer 3G services on a commercial basis from Sep 1.