Spectrum auction: Government receives bids amounting to ₹77,000 crore

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on March 01, 2021

The telecom spectrum auction that started on Monday has received a bidding amount of ₹77,146 crore from 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, and 2300MHz bands.

This received bid amount is more than the government's expectations (expected ₹45,000 crore) or analysts (₹50,000 crore).

The spectrum put for auction includes – 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2500MHz bands. Three bidders Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio, participated in the auction.

However, there were no bidding for the 700MHz and 2500MHz.

“There were three bidders this time... in 2016, there were seven operators and before that more participants. We expected for three operators only as they had to renew for their existing spectrum. We had estimated for bids around ₹45,000 crore. But, it (about ₹77, 146 crore) is much more than that,” Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Communications and IT, told reporters here after the auctions took place on Monday.

He said that the four rounds of bidding took place on the first day of the auction, and around 60 per cent of the total spectrum put on auction have received bids till now. A few more rounds of bidding are expected to take place on Tuesday, he said.

‘Successful auction’

Prasad said despite the pandemic, it is a successful auction so far. The government expects an upfront payment of ₹12,000 crore to ₹13,000 crore from this auction in this financial year and same amount in the next financial year, Anshu Prakash, Secretary, Department of Telecommunications (DoT), said.

Of all the spectrum put into the auction, the 800MHz has received 65 per cent of the bidding, 900MHz-38 per cent, 1800MHz-41 per cent, 2100MHz-9 per cent and 2300MHz-89 per cent, he said.

The Cabinet in December 2020 had approved to sell 2251.25MHz spectrum worth ₹3.92-lakh crore.

However, according to the companies and analysts, the bidding was expected only for the spectrum's renewals that the operators held.

For instance, Bharti Airtel had to renew 57.60MHz (51.40MHz in 1800 MHz band and 6.20MHz in 900MHz band), Reliance Jio of 81.25MHz in 800 MHz band Vodafone Idea of 57.25MHz (51.05MHz in 1800MHz band and 6.20MHz in 900MHz band).

Asked about the 5G spectrum auction, Prasad added that, “The testbed is already ready, and very soon we shall have the ecosystem too. The auction for 5G will be announced when the time comes.”

The last spectrum auction took place in 2016, and the government had received bidding of ₹65,789 crore and only 40 per cent of the spectrum were sold.

Published on March 01, 2021

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