India’s top telecom operators, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular, along with Reliance Communications, Tata Teleservices, Aircel and Reliance Jio have submitted their applications to participate in the upcoming spectrum auction.
Norway-based Telenor didn’t submit its application for the spectrum auction. The largest-ever spectrum auction is scheduled to start from October 1, and it will see spectrum worth Rs 5.63 lakh crore go on sale. Spectrum in all bands — 700 Mhz, 800 Mhz, 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz, 2100 Mhz and 2300 Mhz — will be put on the block. All these radiowaves can be used for high-speed 4G services.
Telecom operators such as Vodafone and Idea Cellular are most likely to be active bidders in the upcoming spectrum auctions for their 4G network rollout, while Bharti Airtel will look to bridge the gaps in its spectrum and opt for a selective approach while bidding for airwaves.
Vodafone has a total 302MHz spectrum and Idea 271MHz spectrum. Bharti Airtel has the largest spectrum holding at present, of the total 770MHz, across bands, followed by Reliance Jio Infocomm, which holds 596MHz spectrum across 800MHz, 1,800MHz, and 2,300MHz bands.
This year’s auction will see the sale of premium airwaves in the 700 Mhz band, which is considered as the most premium as the cost of providing service is one-third of 3G under the 2100 Mhz band. The 700 Mhz band alone has potential to fetch bids worth Rs 4 lakh crore if all the spectrum in it gets sold at the base price. However, private telcos have already given a lukewarm response, citing exorbitant pricing and undeveloped ecosystem.
Ind-Ra recently said that the bidding is anticipated to be more balanced than the previous auctions in 2015 and 2014, where spectrum acquisition was driven by license expiry and hence continuity of operations. “Participation will be also affected by the steep pricing of 700MHz band which constitutes 72% of the aggregate spectrum value at the base price,” it had said.
According to reports, the country’s finance ministry in the budget pegged the revenue at Rs 98,995 crore from the telecom space, which includes Rs 64,000 crore from the auction of about 2,354.55 Mhz of spectrum and the rest from various levies and services this financial year.
Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha earlier told media that telcos not buying airwaves will not be able to take on competition and expects an enthusiastic participation.