Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Jio Infocomm, 5 others apply for spectrum auction

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Eight telecom operators applied for spectrum auction slated for February 3, raising hopes that the govt would garner more than Rs 11,343 cr from it. Reuters Eight telecom operators applied for spectrum auction slated for February 3, raising hopes that the govt would garner more than Rs 11,343 cr from it. Reuters
SummaryBharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Jio Infocomm raise hopes govt would garner more than Rs 11,343 cr.

Eight telecom operators including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Reliance Jio Infocomm today applied for spectrum auction slated for February 3, raising hopes that the government would garner more than Rs 11,343 crore from it.

"Eight applicants have applied. The auction will be successful, that is what we believe," Telecom Secretary M F Farooqui told reporters here.

"From the sale of spectrum in the current year, the Budget has provided for Rs 11,343 crore. We will exceed that," he added.

Overall, the government has set a revenue target of Rs 40,874.50 crore for this fiscal from the auction amount, one-time spectrum charge and annual regular licence fee.

Vodafone had filed the first application, followed by Bharti Airtel, Aircel, Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular Ltd, RJIL, Telewings (Uninor), Reliance Communications Ltd, an official source said.

Today was the last date for submitting the applications and companies have the option to withdraw them by January 27.

In the last round of auction held in March 2013, none of the GSM operators had bid for radiowaves, citing high reserve or base price.

The Cabinet has fixed the base price for sale of spectrum in the 1800 Mhz band for pan-India at Rs 1,765 crore per MHz, about 26 per cent lower than in the March sale.

For the 900 MHz band, it approved a rate up to 53 per cent lower than the previous auction price. It is Rs 360 crore per MHz for Delhi, Rs 328 crore for Mumbai and Rs 125 crore for Kolkata.

About 403 megahertz of 2G spectrum in the 1800 MHz band and about 45 MHz of spectrum in the premium 900 MHz band is being put up for auction.

The 1800 Mhz band is being put up for auction following the Supreme Court order that the government sell all spectrum that was freed from the cancellation of 122 licences on February 2, 2012 in the 2G spectrum allocation case.

The 900 Mhz is being auctioned in three metros - Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata - as the current lincences of operators (Airtel, Vodafone and Loop) will expire in November.

Loop and Videocon, however, have not applied for the forthcoming bidding.

Loop Mobile MD and CEO Sandip Basu said that the company has filed an application before telecom tribunal TDSAT for extension of lincence an it expects "a positive outcome".

He added: "If we get (licence) extension, we are willing to pay market determined price. If have filed application before TDSAT which will be heard."

State-owned BSNL and MTNL have also not applied for the bidding.

Meanwhile, RJIL - which holds only broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum - has applied for GSM radiowaves in both the bands 900/1800 Mhz bands. The 900 Mhz band is crucial for Vodafone and Airtel for continuing operations.

Vodafone's three permits in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata; Airtel's in Delhi and Kolkata, and Loop Mobile's one in Mumbai are due to expire this November.

DoT has put 16 blocks of 900 Mhz spectrum for auction each in Delhi and Mumbai and 14 blocks in Kolkata. Companies participating in auction for 900 Mhz band will have to bid minimum of 5 Mhz in this band.

In case of 1800 Mhz band, a new company will have to bid a minimum of 5 Mhz of spectrum and existing will have to bid three blocks of airwaves.

The applications come amidst uncertainty on a number of issues such as spectrum usage charge, merger and acquisition guidelines, spectrum sharing and its trading.

Farooqui said that all the issues will be resolved before the auction.

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