The latest entrant in the telecom sector, Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio), despite investing a huge amount on setting up infrastructure, is expected to bid the most in the upcoming spectrum auctions next month.
According to sources, the Mukesh Ambani-owned Jio has deposited the highest guarantee of around Rs 6,500 crore as Earnest Money Deposit (EMD) with the Department of Telecom (DoT) for the auctions starting on October 1.
Of the seven telecom operators who have submitted their applications with DoT to participate in the auctions, Vodafone is the second highest depositor of EMD at Rs 2,740 crore.
Similarly, Idea Cellular has deposited Rs 2,000 crore, followed by Bharti Airtel at Rs 1,980 crore, Tata Telecommunications at Rs 1,300 crore, Reliance Communications Rs 313 crore and and Aircel depositing Rs 120 crore respectively.
But this year's cumulative EMD -- valued at around Rs 15,000 (all seven players put together) -- is lower than the Rs 20,435 crore deposited in the previous year.
However, it could not be confirmed whether the amounts tally with DoT’s. The companies are also reluctant to share the figures right now and according to DoT officials, it would be shared on Monday only.
Also, sources in the government and DoT said lower EMD would not mean a lesser scale of bidding as the EMD cannot be linked to the scale of bidding.
For example, in 2010, when Infotel Broadband applied for auction, no one was able to link their EMD with the pan-India bids it placed, but at the end it emerged as the pan-India winner of BWA spectrum.
According to analysts, this year's auction is going to be an interesting one as apart from new players such as Jio, premium bands like 700MHz will be put up for auction for the first time.
Also, with RCom and Aircel’s merger announcement on Wednesday, it was uncertain whether the two companies would go ahead with bidding, or whether Aircel would cancel its application.
The upcoming auctions will see various airwaves worth ₹5.63 lakh crore go on sale in different bands including 700MHz, 800 MHz, 900 Mhz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz.
Apart from the premium 700 MHz, which will be sought after not only for 4G services but also for future technologies like 5G in the long run, companies may bid strongly for bands such as 1800MHz, 2300MHz and 2500MHz for 4G services in different circles.
According to calculations of the EMDs, analysts expect the auctions to yield around Rs 80,000 crore. There will be about 2,354.55 MHz of spectrum put up for auction.
In the Budget the Finance Ministry pegged the revenue from the telecom space at Rs 98,995 crore, which includes Rs 64,000 crore from the upcoming auction and various levies and services in the current financial year.