Vodafone Group and Bharti Airtel won critical wireless telecom spectrum in metros like Delhi and Mumbai and several other cities in an intensely fought 10- day auction that gave the government over Rs 61,162 crore (Rs 611.62 billion), far exceeding its own target.
Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio Infocomm, which surprised by entering the fray despite owing pan-India 4G spectrum, bid aggressively for both the bands of airwaves on offer – the premium 900 Mega-Hertz and not so efficient 1,800 MHz, but choose spectrum only in the later band in 14 out of 22 circles.
Vodafone, whose license in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata is due to expire in November this year and desperately needed spectrum in the auction to continue operations, put in bids worth Rs 19,600 crore (Rs 196 billion) to win 900 MHz airwave in the three metros and 2G 1800 MHz spectrum in 11 circles or zones.
Airtel, whose licenses in Delhi and Kolkatta was due to expire in November, won back 900 MHz in both these metros and added the same in Mumbai. It also won 1,800 MHz spectrum in 15 circles. It put in total bid worth Rs 18,530 crore (Rs 185.30 billion) for a total of 115 MHz of spectrum in 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands.
Sunil Bharti Mittal-promoted firm said it will roll out pan-India 4G network using 1800 MHz.
Idea was the only other company to win the 900 MHz spectrum, which is capable of 3G communications, in Delhi.
In all the auction, which lasted 10 days, fetched the government Rs 61,162 crore, of which Rs 18,296.36 crore (Rs 182.96 billion) will flow to the exchequer within this fiscal. The government was initially expecting only Rs 11,300 crore (Rs 113 billion) of revenues to come from the spectrum auction in the current year.
Uninor won spectrum in five circles in 1800 MHz band while Idea got 11 circles in the same band. Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications won just one circle of 1800 MHz in Mumbai. Tata Communications drew blank. Aircel got 5 circles.
"I am very happy to report that auction is over. The total revenue that will come to government is Rs 61,162.22 crore (Rs 611.62 billion). To that extent particular auction has been extremely successful," Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal said.