Tuesday, May 18, 2010

India Raises US$15 Billion in 3G Spectrum Auction

Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Reliance Communications were major winners in the 3G spectrum auction that was just concluded by India's Ministry of Communications & Information Technology. After 183 rounds of bidding in 34 days, the auction raised approximately Rs 67,719 crore (US$15 billion) in commitments from the carriers. Pundits had predicted between Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 35,000 crore in auction proceeds for the spectrum, indicating fierce bidding as the number of mobile users across the country continues to soar.

The 3G auction offered 3 or 4 blocks of 2x5MHz in the 2.1GHz band in 22 service areas, or circles, across India. BSNL and MTNL received spectrum outside auction process, but at a market price to be determined by the auction. The bidding was conducted over a secure website.

Bharti and Reliance Communications each secured spectrum in 13 circles, including Delhi and Mumbai, where bidding was fierce. Vodafone secured 3G spectrum in 9 circles, providing a strategic footprint covering 66% of Vodafone Essar's current revenue base.

A new auction for broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum is expected to begin within days. This new BWA auction will offer 2 blocks of 20MHz in the 2.3GHz band across the same 22 service areas.

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