3G revenue crosses 45,000 Crore; all circles get bids

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New Delhi: India Thursday concluded 132 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 crossing the 45,000 crore ($9.9 billion) mark and all the 22 circles receiving bids.

At the end of the 23rd day of the auction, which began April 9, the provisional winning price for a pan-India licence stood at 11,327.44 crore, up 223.64 percent from the 3,500 crore reserve price.

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 now 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.

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.

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 45,691.66 crore from the auction.

The government hopes to rake in over 55,000 crore from the 3G auction and the rolling out of broadband wireless Internet services in the country.

According to the latest information available on the DoT website, "the activity requirement was set to 100 percent in clock round 132", which implies that the 3G auction will conclude in a day or two.

According to data available on DoT, Mumbai continued to attract the highest bid at 1,986.69 crore. The provisional winning price for Delhi stood at 1,920.02 crore, followed by Maharashtra at 1,062.15 crore.

Interestingly, all the 22 circles managed to attract players after 22 days of auction. Bihar, with bid value at 39.87 crore, witnessed three additional players in fray for the four available slots.

For three slots each in Delhi, Mumbai and Karnataka, two additional players were in the fray, the data showed.

Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the northeast could not attract enough players for the number of slots available.

This 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 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.
Source: IANS
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