3G auction: Delhi attracts highest bid at over 3000 Crore
New Delhi: India Saturday concluded 172 rounds of an auction to award spectrum for third generation (3G) telecom services in the country, with the government's provisional revenue from the sale of airwaves reaching 63,885.45 crore and Delhi attracting the highest bid at over 3,000 crore. At the end of the 31st day of the auction, which began April 9, the pan-India 3G licence price stood at 15,814.15 crore, which is 352 percent higher than the 3,500 crore reserve price. With aggressive bidding in few circles, the government is poised to get more than 65,000 crore from the 3G auction alone, though it had estimated to rake in 55,000 crore from both the 3G auction and the rolling out of broadband wireless internet services. Slots for three-four players are available in each of the 22 circles into which the country has been geographically divided for the 3G services, which will facilitate faster connectivity and enable applications such as Internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange. Nine telecom companies - Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Aircel, Etisalat, S Tel and Videocon Telecommunications - are participating in the online auction process which will end only when the demand is equal to the number of slots available in each circle. The government has already given Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) spectrum for 3G services on the condition that they pay the same licence fee as would be levied on private players after the auction. Data on the Department of Telecommunications' website showed that Delhi once again became the favourite of bidders attracting the highest bid at 3,032.85 crore. The provisional winning price for Mumbai stood at 2,998.66 crore, followed by Karnataka at 1,564.27 crore, Tamil Nadu at 1,464.94 crore and Andhra Pradesh at 1,280.79 crore. While Punjab, Orissa, Kolkata and Uttar Pradesh (west) witnessed more players in fray than the number of slots available, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Rajasthan could not attract enough bidders. The ongoing 3G auction is a simultaneous auction for the 22 circles over a secure website. At each round, the price is hiked from between 10-1 percent based on demand. The auction is being held on all days except Sundays and national holidays. The bid data, including the winning companies' names, will be made public only after the auction's completion and approval by the government. The winning firms will have to deposit the money within 10 days after the auction and the successful bidders would be allowed to offer 3G services on a commercial basis from Sep 1.