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Bids for spectrum end at Rs 65,789 cr; 700 Mhz and 900 Mhz bands go unsold

NEW DELHI: The spectrum auction of 700 megahertz to the telecom operators, which made cable TV companies apprehensive that this would lead to interference of signals in the coaxial pockets of their networks, found no takers.

There was also no bidding for spectrum in the 900 Mhz band even as the government raised Rs 65,789 crore ($9.85 billion) in an auction of airwaves, much below the Rs 5.6 trillion that the government had anticipated to receive.

Incidentally, both the 700 Mhz and 900 Mhz had the highest minimum prices. The 700 MHz band itself was expected to go for a total of Rs 4 lakh crore.

Media analysts said that debt-ridden telecom operators were conserving cash as the industry was headed for fierce competition over prices and quality of service. Twelve wireless companies have debt in excess of $60 billion.

The government had put up 2,354.55 Mhz for auction, out of which bids were received for 965 Mhz of spectrum.

Interest was largely shown for 1800 Mhz and 2300 Mhz, which operators can use for providing 4G services. The industry also evinced interest in 2100 Mhz (3G/4G) band, 2500 Mhz (4G) band and 800 Mhz (2G/4G) bands.

According to Communications Minister Manoj Sinha, the government will get an upfront payment of Rs 32,000 crore. Unsold spectrum will be auctioned in the future, he said.

While Vodafone bought 20,000 crore worth of spectrum, Bharti Airtel took home spectrum worth Rs 14,244 crore. Idea Cellular’s bid stood at Rs 12,798 crore and Reliance Jio’s at Rs 13,672 crore.

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