Spectrum auction draws bids of nearly USD10bn

5 Mar 2015

India’s spectrum auction is off to a strong start with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) reporting that after six rounds it has received bids across all four bands totalling around INR617 billion (USD9.93 billion). Bidding data released by the DoT showed fierce competition for spectrum in the 900MHz band, although there was much less interest in the 2100MHz range than anticipated. Four of the nation’s incumbent cellcos – Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications (RCOM) – are bidding to renew expiring 2G concessions and potentially face closure in certain circles if they fail to acquire fresh frequency rights. Newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL), meanwhile, is expected to bid aggressively to disrupt its entrenched rivals, having put down the highest earnest money deposit (EMD) leading up to the auction. Unsurprisingly, competition has been particularly strong in the circles where two of the quartet are renewing concessions, such as Uttar Pradesh (West) Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. In an unexpected turn, however, there has been no demand for 2100MHz frequencies in the circles of Delhi and Mumbai, most likely due to the high price per block of INR33.15 billion and INR32.45 billion respectively.