Idea is Top Bidder for Telecom spectrum: Minister

By: Gizbot Bureau

Idea Cellular placed the highest bid of Rs.30,306 crore in the latest round of radio spectrum auctions for telecom operators, with that from Aircel being the lowest at Rs.2,250 crore, Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said here on Thursday.

The quantum of winning bids is Rs.109,874 crore, Prasad announced here. He said even as the winners were required to pay within 10 days around a third of the winning bid price -- amounting totally to some Rs.28,872 crore -- the companies will be requested to comply by March 31.

The minister also sought to allay fears that the high cost of spectrum due to the latest round will not impact on the tariff. He said detailed analysis by the ministry suggested that telecom tariff could go up only marginally by around Rs.0.013 per minute.

Idea is Top Bidder for Telecom spectrum: Minister

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The details of the winning bids were revealed after the Supreme Court, which is hearing a host of petitions on the issue of spectrum, allowed the government Thursday to go ahead and finalise the bids and name the winners, but take a decision only after its order on that matter.

The Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio, which was expected to bid aggressively for the spectrum to start 4G services in the country, made a total commitment of Rs.10,077 crore.

Bharti Airtel committed the second-highest amount of Rs.29,310 crore behind Idea Cellular.

"Even in terms of the quantum of spectrum sold, I'm happy to say, it was the highest in 2015," Prasad said. He said that against 88.8 percent that the latest tranche is expected to fetch, it was 43.04 percent in 2012, 17.78 percent in 2013 and 81.9 percent in 2014.

Among the other players out of eight that qualified, Vodafone bid Rs.25,959 crore, Tata Teleservices bid Rs.7,851 crore, and Reliance Communications bid Rs.4,299 crore. Uninor, however, did not win any spectrum.

In the Supreme Court, Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Prafulla C. Pant in their order on the matter said: "We are inclined to modify our order, and allow the Union of India to finalise auction and proceed further."

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All the successful bidders shall be intimated that the auction will be finalised subject to the outcome of the hearing of the matter by the court, the order said, relaxing its earlier verdict of February 26 restraining the government from finalising the bids.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the auction was a tremendous success and made a plea to the court to modify its earlier order so that the government can then ask the successful bidders to make the initial payment of Rs.28,000 crore, which has been factored into the budget.

The numbers revealed by the communications minister suggest that the latest tranche of auction -- spread over 19 days with 115 rounds of bidding -- has come as a windfall for the government, surpassing the previous high of Rs.106,200 crore that the government received in the 2010 auction, which was spread over 34 days with 183 rounds of bidding.

On offer this time were blocks for 69 service areas at a total reserve price of Rs.80,277 crore, and the provisional allocation was announced for 63 of them at a winning price of Rs.109,874.91 crore. In 50 service areas, the winning bids went at a premium.

Source: IANS

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