"Till now, four rounds of bidding have been completed. Bids have been received in all 22 service areas in 1800 MHz band and in all three service areas in 900 MHz band. Thus, bidding has taken place in all the service areas in both bands," an official statement said.
The auction started at 9 am today, it added. Eight telecom firms, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio Infocomm, are in the fray in the auction from which the government expects to garner at least Rs 11,300 crore in the current financial year.
The auction started as planned after the Supreme Court yesterday refused to interfere with the order of the telecom tribunal dismissing the pleas of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Loop and Idea for a stay on the spectrum auction and extension of their licenses by another 10 years.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has put on the block about 385 MHz of radiowaves in the 1800 MHz band and 46 MHz in the 900 MHz band.
Normally, six to seven rounds of bidding take place in a day with each round of 60 minutes. There is a 20-minute break between rounds.
The government is conducting this third round of spectrum auction following a Supreme Court order in the 2G case directing that all radiowaves freed from the cancellation of 122 licences in February 2012 should be auctioned.
Besides, the 900 Mhz has to be auctioned as some of the radiowaves in this band are held under old telecom licences, which will start expiring from November 2014.
The 3G auction in 2010 lasted for 34 days, while the offer in November 2012 lasted for two days and the sale in March last year lasted for only one day.
In November 2012, Rs 9,407 crore of bids were received for spectrum worth Rs 28,000 that was offered.
In March 2013, no GSM operators bid at the auction and only CDMA operator Sistema Shyam bought spectrum of about Rs 3,600 crore in eight of the 21 service areas.
Vodafone needs to get spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata; Airtel in Delhi and Mumbai, and Loop Mobile in Mumbai to continue operations as their licences expire in November.
The government is hopeful that all the spectrum offered will be sold in the auction.
The government has set a target of Rs 40,874.50 crore for this fiscal from spectrum, including the auction amount, one-time spectrum charge and annual regular licence fee.