Spectrum auction sees bids of Rs.86,000 crore at end of Day Four

New Delhi: After Day Four of e-auctions for radio frequency spectrum or airwaves for telecom operators on Saturday, the government had a total commitment of Rs.86,000 crore in terms of highest bids from the eight companies in the fray over 24 rounds, an official statement said here.

This is nearly double the amount the finance ministry had budgeted for from sale of spectrum this fiscal at Rs.43,161.72 crore, as also one-time spectrum fee and other license-related levies.

“The bidding has taken place in all bands. At present, a value of approximately Rs.86,000 crore has been committed by bidders in respect of provisionally won spectrum. There is still spectrum, which is yet to be sold. Bidding would recommence on Monday, that is, March 9, 2015 at 9 a.m.,” an official statement by the Department of Telecom said.

“Today, 7 rounds of bidding were completed. Till now, 24 rounds of bidding have taken place,” it added.

The maximum bids of 86 were received for Himachal Pradesh circle with a winning amount of Rs.10.43 crore per block in the 900 MHz band. This circle saw 24 excess bids.

The second highest number of bids of 75 were received for Odisha and Tamil Nadu circles for the 1,800 MHz band with the winning amount of Rs.4.6 crore and Rs.45 crore per block respectively.

The 2,100 MHz band is yet to see some traction. There are slots available pan-India in virtually every band.

Till Day Three, 17 rounds of bidding took place with a total offer of Rs.77,000 crore.

The eight telecom service providers participating in the auctions are Reliance Communications, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Tata Teleservices, Uninor, Idea Cellular and Aircel.

They have submitted earnest money of Rs.20,435 crore, which is two-and-a-half times what had been called for.

The total spectrum put up for auction is 103.75 MHz in 800 MHz band, 177.8 MHz in 900 MHz band and 99.2 MHz in 1,800 MHz band for second generation (2G) telephony. The government has also put up 5 MHz in the 2,100 MHz band for third generation (3G) telephony.

The government had fixed a reserve price of Rs.3,646 crore for pan-India per MHz for 800 MHz frequency, Rs.3,980 crore for 900 MHz band and Rs.2,191 crore for the 1,800 MHz band. The government also fixed a reserve price of Rs.3,705 crore per megahertz for the frequency for 3G spectrum.

As per estimates, at the base price alone, the auction will translate into some Rs.82,000 crore, even as the government expects the actual process to fetch over Rs.100,000 crore. The finalisation of the bids is subject to the Supreme Court’s directive, where the matter is being heard.

This would mean the government could realise well over the budgeted Rs.43,161.72 crore as non-tax receipts under the head of “other communications”, the bulk of it from the spectrum auction, as also in much smaller way from entry fee from new operators and related levies.