Nine bid for 3G spectrum and 11 for BWA
It what seems to be good news for the Centre, more telecom companies on Friday joined the race to acquire precious spectrum to launch 3G and broadband wireless access (BWA) services later this year.
On the last day of filing applications for auction, Idea Cellular, Aircel and Videocon were among the companies to join the race for 3G spectrum, while Airtel, Aircel, and Reliance Communications will also be bidding for BWA.
In all, nine companies will be bidding for 3G, while 11 players will take part in the BWA spectrum auction.
The nine bidders for pan-India 3G spectrum are: Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Etisalat DB, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Videocon, Aircel and S Tel (only for six circles). Similarly, for BWA, the companies in the race are: Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Communications, Spice, Aircel, Qualcomm, Tikona Wireless, Augere and HFCL.
Significantly, all major telecom companies — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Aircel, Reliance Communications and Tata group — are bidding for both 3G and BWA spectrum, which could lead to government garnering good revenues.
Out of 22 telecom circles (service areas), three slots for 3G are available in 17 circles and four in five circles, while for BWA, only two slots will be auctioned in each of the 22 circles, making the auction interesting.
Department of Telecommunication officials are surprised by the interest shown by telecom majors in BWA spectrum.
The DoT has fixed Rs.3,500 crore as reserve price for pan-India 3G spectrum and Rs.1,750 crore for BWA spectrum.
The auction for 3G spectrum begins on April 9 which will be followed by auction for BWA.
Meanwhile, Uninor, a joint venture between Norway's Telenor and Unitech, said it could not participate in the 3G auction as it was still to get 2G spectrum for which it had already made payments.
“For the current and immediately foreseeable data requirements in the Indian market, we believe a good quality 2.75G/EDGE service is sufficient… there will be other opportunities and routes to get into 3G at a stage when the market is really ready for it and the demand makes for a sound business case,” Uninor said in a statement.