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Govt rakes in Rs 77,000 crore via spectrum auction to telcos

Ravi Shankar Prasad

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) managed to mop up Rs 77,146 crore on the first day of auctions of spectrum for 4G airwaves, as against its expectations of Rs 45,000 crore, Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

The DoT expects upfront payment between Rs 12,000 crore and Rs 13,000 crore for this and the next financial year from the three private telecom players — Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea — that bid for the airwaves this time, Prasad said. This is against the government’s own estimates of Rs 6,000-7,000 crore in the current fiscal.

Of the four rounds, there was 80 per cent bidding activity in the first two rounds, which increased to 90 per cent in the next two rounds. As per the norms, the spectrum sold will be valid for 20 years.

The latest spectrum auction by the government comes five years after the last auction in 2016 in which 7 telcos had participated.

Airtel spends Rs 18,699 crore

Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel on Tuesday said it has acquired another 355.45 MHz spectrum across Sub GHz, mid band and 2300 MHz bands for Rs 18,699 crore in the latest auction conducted by the government.

 “Airtel has decisively strengthened its mid band and capacity spectrum holdings that will help it provide an exceptional customer experience at marginal capex. All of the spectrum will enable Airtel to deliver 5G services in future,” the company said.

However, the company added that despite the large amount of spectrum made available, the 700 MHz band bands did not get any bid from telecom operators as it made no economic case for them based on the high reserve prices.

Reliance Jio, which had made the highest earnest money deposit (EMD) of Rs. 10,000 crores, is expected to be the leading bidder for the 800MHz spectrum. The Mumbai-based telco majorly requires the airwaves for its 4G networks as the spectrum it acquired from Reliance Communications is expiring. The company had not released its information at the time of publishing this news.