First day of Indian spectrum auction sees over $8bn of bids

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

No bids for premium 700MHz and 900MHz bands as operators bid for 1800MHz spectrum

More than $8bn worth of bids have been made on the first day of India’s biggest spectrum auction, according to government officials.

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular are all facing pressure from newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm as the operators look to boost their data services in the country. Other bidders included Aircel, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices.

The total value of spectrum on offer in the auction, which began on 1 October, is estimated at $84 billion based on a reserve price set by the Indian government.

Data released by the Department of Telecom at the end of the first five rounds of bidding showed carriers avoiding bids for the expensive 700MHz and 900MHz bands. The 700 MHz band is being auctioned at a reserve or base price of Rs 11,485 crore per Mhz.

This band alone has the potential to fetch bids worth over Rs 4 lakh crore, if the entire spectrum in this band is sold at the base price.

Instead, the carriers opted for 1800MHz frequency. 19 of 22 telecom circles on that frequency in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Gujarat and UP (East and West) received bids. There was also bids on 2100MHz, 2500MHz, 2300MHz and 800MHz bands, according to DoT.

“There was major bidding activity even in the 2300 Mhz band, while 2100 Mhz and 2500 Mhz bands also saw some level of activity,” according to sources quoted by the Indian Express.