India’s 3G airwaves auction concludes, to fetch some $15.5 bn

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) After 34 days, India Wednesday concluded its auction of airwaves for private players to start third generation (3G) telecom services in the country, with the exchequer set to gain a little under Rs.70,000 crore ($15.5 billion).

A pan-India licence will cost a winning company around Rs.17,000 crore ($3.7 billion), officials said. The state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, who have already been issued airwaves, will also have to pay the winner’s price.

Slots for three-four players are available in the 22 circles into which the country has been geographically divided for the services, which facilitates faster connectivity and enables applications such as Internet TV, video-on-demand, audio-video calls and high-speed data exchange.

Nine companies — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Aircel, Etisalat, S Tel and Videocon Telecommunications — took part in the online auction that started April 9.

The auction was held on all days except Sundays and national holidays. The bid data, including the winning companies’ names, will be made public only after the auction’s completion and approval by the government, officials said.

The winning firms will have to deposit the money within 10 days from now. The successful bidders would be allowed to offer 3G services on a commercial basis from Sep 1.

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