Spectrum auction draws bids worth Rs 53,531 crore on 1st day

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India’s largest-ever spectrum auction kicked off today with major telecom operators placing bids worth Rs 53,531 crore across bands, even as the premium 700 Mhz and 900 Mhz frequencies did not find any buyer. As much as 2,354.55 megahertz of frequencies are being put up for auction in seven bands valued at Rs 5.63 lakh crore at base price. The airwaves auction today saw total bids of worth around Rs 53,531 crore after five rounds, official sources said. The spectrum auction, where seven telecom companies including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Jio are in fray, will resume on Monday. The other telecom players in the fray are Aircel, Reliance Communications and Tata Teleservices. Telecom Secretary J S Deepak had told PTI yesterday that after this auction the “problem of spectrum scarcity affecting quality of service will be history”. He had also advised operators to “tank up” the radiowaves to bridge shortfall in their holdings as the next such sale may not happen for “quite some time”. According to data released by the Department of Telecom, five bidding rounds took place today with operators showing more interest in 1800 Mhz band — a frequency that can be used for delivering 2G/4G services. Operators also placed bids for spectrum in 2100 Mhz (3G/4G) band, 2500 Mhz (4G) band, 2300 Mhz (4G) and 800 Mhz (2G/4G) bands too. Maximum action was seen in 1800 Mhz band – earlier known as 2G spectrum – with bidding in 19 of 22 telecom circles including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Gujarat and UP (East and West). Telecom operators are in the race to arm themselves with spectrum to maintain competitive edge in providing quality and next generation mobile services to consumers in the world’s second largest telecom market.