Asia Express - Mobile Communications
India Announces 3G Spectrum Auction Results
May 20, 2010
The 3G spectrum auction in India, which kicked off on April 9, closed on May 19, bringing a total revenue of 677.2 billion Rupees (US$14.5 billion; US$1 = 46.7 Rupees) for India's government, the Times of India reported on May 20, adding that the revenue is nearly double the amount originally estimated by India's DoT (Department of Telecom) at 300.0 billion Rupees (US$6.42 billion). With one set of pan-India 3G license costing around 167.5 billion Rupees (US$3.59 billion), no single operator was able to bag 22 circles altogether. The reserve price for 3G was originally set at 35 billion Rupees (US$749.5 million). The most valuable circle is Delhi circle, which was closed at 33.16 billion Rupees (US$710.0 million) upon auction closure, following by the Mumbai circle at 32.47 billion Rupees (US$688.7 million). Of the total nine competitors, Bharti Airtel spent 123 billion Rupees (US$2.6 billion) securing 3G spectrum in 13 circles, followed by Vodafone, which bought 3G spectrum in nine circles for 116.2 billion Rupees (US$2.49 billion). Reliance, ranking the third in terms of bid price, earmarked 85.9 billion Rupees (US$1.84 billion) for spectrum in 13 circles, according to the same source. Other telecom operators, Idea Cellular and Tata Teleservices each own nine circles. STel and Vidocon Telecom secured three circles while Etisalat got none.


Spectrum will be vacated for bid winners in September 2010 and 3G services are anticipated to commercially available by November 5, 2010. Winning bidders have to pay for their licenses within 10 days following the auction closure, including BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) and MTNL (Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited), who have been allocated 3G spectrum a year ago without bidding, according again to the Times of India.


The BWA (Broadband Wireless Access) spectrum auction is expected to start two days after the completion of the 3G auction, further boosting the government revenue upward. The reserve price for BWA radio wave is set at 17.5 billion Rupees (US$374.7 million) for pan-India license and fierce competition among 11 players are expected to push up the bid price for a pan-India BWA license.