3G auction: Pan-India licence price nears 9,000 Crore level
New Delhi: India Wednesday concluded 94 rounds of an auction to award spectrum for third generation (3G) telecom services in the country, with the provisional winning price for a nationwide licence nearing the 9,000 crore level. At the end of the 16th day of the auction, which began April 9, the provisional winning price for a pan-India licence stood at 8,914.16 crore, up from the 3,500 crore reserve price fixed by the government. For the third consecutive day, Mumbai attracted the highest bid of 1,383.30 crore. The provisional winning price for Delhi stood at 1,349.51 crore, followed by Maharashtra at 874.42 crore, according to data available on the website of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT). Four service areas - Uttar Pradesh (East), Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Bihar - did not attract even a single player, the data showed. 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 much faster connectivity than what is available now and enable applications such as Internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange. The government has already given Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) spectrum for 3G services on the condition that they will pay the same licence fee as would be levied on private players after the auction. Along with the fee that will be eventually paid by the two state-run enterprises for the licences, the government will provisionally get at least 36,024.61 crore from the auction. This is on the presumption that every available slot gets filled at the provisionally approved price. Communications Minister A. Raja Tuesday said the government expects to raise 55,000 crore from the ongoing auctions of radio frequency spectrum for 3G telecom services and for rolling out broadband wireless internet services in the country. "The revenue from 3G alone will touch Rs 40,000 crore...Putting both 3G and broadband spectrum together, we hope to get 50,000-55,000 crore of revenue," he said. 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. This 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 from 9 a.m. to 7.30 p.m. on all days, except Sundays and national holidays. The process will end only when the demand is equal to the number of slots available in each circle. According to a senior DoT official, it may take another two-three weeks for the auction to be completed. The bid data, including the winning companies' names, will be made public 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. The successful bidders would be allowed to offer 3G services on a commercial basis from Sep 1.