Four telecom operators Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Uninor and Aircel have submitted applications for participating in the upcoming spectrum auction, scheduled to start from March 4. Today is the last day to submit the applications. Most of the spectrum being put up for the auction is presently held by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Telecom.
Their licences are set to expire in 2015-16. It is mandatory for these companies to bid for spectrum if they have to continue offering mobile and other telecom services as their permit is expiring.
Participation of Uninor and Aircel has further enhanced the chances of aggressive bidding in the auction. Other telecom players are also expected to file their applications later in the day, except Sistema Shyam Teleservices and state-owned firms BSNL and MTNL.
SSTL, which was seen as potential buyer for CDMA spectrum, has decided not to participate in the auction due to high base price and pending request of frequency rearrangement or reallocation that it won in March 2013 auction.
The government expects to garner over Rs 80,000 crore from the sale of radiowaves for providing 2G as well as 3G services. It has approved the minimum or auction start price for the 2,100 Mega-Hertz band or 3G spectrum, which will garner at least Rs 17,555 crore. The reserve price for auction of 2G spectrum in 800 MHz, 900 Mhz and 1800 MHz bands will fetch the government Rs 64,840 crore.
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The government plans to sell 380.75 MHz of spectrum in the three bands - the premium 900 MHz band, 1800 MHz and 800 MHz, besides 5 Mhz in the 2100 Mhz band across 17 out of 22 telecom areas.
The government had garnered about Rs 62,162 crore from the last auction in February 2014. Proceeds from this year's auction is expected to help the government reach its fiscal deficit target of 4.1 per cent of GDP.