The government on Monday received bids worth more than Rs 9,200 crore (Rs 92 billion) on the opening day of auction for 2G mobile phone spectrum that drew scant interest due to high base price.
There was no bidder for pan-India airwaves for which the government had set a base or bid start price of Rs 14,000 crore (Rs 140 billion) even as demand was concentrated in select circles like Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (East) and Uttar Pradesh (West). Of the 22 telecom circles, which cover the entire nation, bids were received for 18, with Delhi, Mumbai, Rajasthan and Karnataka which had the highest base price drawing a blank.
"The total quantum of revenue bid is for a little over Rs 9,200 crore (at the end of the fifth round)," Telecom Secretary R Chandrashekhar said.
The bids received so far are a far cry from the Rs 28,000 crore (Rs 280 billion) minimum revenue that the government is expecting from the auction of wireless spectrum reclaimed after the Supreme Court cancelled 122 permits issued in 2008.
The government had set a bid starting price of Rs 14,000 crore (Rs 140 billion) for 5 megahertz of GSM airwave space in all of India's 22 telecommunications zones. The base price was more than seven times what operators paid in 2008.
Chandrashekhar said in 176 blocks of spectrum that were put on auction, bids were received only for 98. Out of 22 circles, the demand for spectrum has crossed the offer only in Uttar Pradesh (West) and UP (East).
"The spectrum reserve price exceeded in UP (W) and UP (E) circles," the Telecom Secretary said.
Gujarat and Bihar received bids for all 8 blocks (of 1.25 MhZ each) that were put for auction. In rest of the circles, the demand was less than the 8 blocks that were put for auction.