Brazil’s long awaited auction of 3G mobile licences started with a bang yesterday as bidders offered BRL2.4 billion (USD1.3 billion) for the first five licences sold – far higher than was expected. Local mobile operators Vivo, Oi and TIM Brasil won three of the four licences available for Zone 1, covering the states of Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo, Bahia and Sergipe, BNamericas reports. Vivo paid BRL310 million for its concession (89.6% higher than the reserve price), Oi offered BRL468 million for the second licence (223%), the regulator said. The fourth licence for Zone 1 was won by Claro after a fierce bidding war which saw the operator pay 273% above the starting price, to beat off Nextel. A fifth licence, for Zone 2, was sold to Vivo, which paid 132% more than the minimum asking price. A total of 44 licences will be offered in the auction, covering eleven operating regions. The sale resumes today.