After the completion of 12 rounds of bidding, a total of over Rs 44,600 crore of bids came in for all the 22 circles or regional zones, industry and government sources said.
Eight companies including Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are competing for two bandwidth slots - 900 MegaHertz and 1,800 MHz in 22 circles - offered in the third spectrum auction within 15 months.
Aggressive bidding was seen for the 900 MHz, which is in short supply and is being auctioned in just three cities, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata -- markets where licences of Bharti and Vodafone are to expire in November unless they buy the radiowaves in this round of auction.
Individual company bids are not being disclosed before the end of the auction. Companies need to pay a quarter to a third of the winning price upfront and remainder through 2026.
Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said bids totaling Rs 40,000 crore were received on the opening day of the auction yesterday.
"We took the bold step of rationalising reserve prices and on the first day itself you have bids worth Rs 40,000 crore," he said.
The government set a pan-India rate of Rs 1,765 crore per MHz as the start price for spectrum in the 1800 MHz band, which is about 26 per cent lower than the base rate in the March 2013 sale, where there were no takers for GSM airwaves.
For the 900 MHz band, it approved a rate that is about 53 per cent lower than the March auction price.
"I just think that may be we got it right, that's all," Telecom Regulatory Authority of India Chairman Rahul Khullar said without elaborating when asked to comment on the response to the auction.
The DoT has put on the block about 385 MHz of radiowaves in the 1800 MHz band in 22 circles and 46 MHz in the 900 MHz band in three circles of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
The 2G spectrum in 1800 Mhz band was put for auction following a Supreme Court order of February 2013.
The 3G and BWA auction together fetched government over Rs 1.05 lakh crore in 2010. The 3G auction in 2010 lasted for 34 days while auction for broadband wireless access airwaves in 16 days.