Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and a surprise entrant Reliance Industries are among the 8 telecom operators that have applied for bidding in the next month's spectrum auction through which the government is expecting at least Rs 11,300 crore.
Tata Teleservices, Idea Cellular and Anil Ambani Group's Reliance Communications were the other prominent firms to apply at the close of applications on Wednesday.
The application by Mukesh Ambani-led RIL's telecom arm, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd came as a surprise as the company is working to launch 4G wireless broadband services soon.
"Eight applicants have applied. The auction will be successful, that is what we believe," telecom secretary MF Farooqui told reporters in New Delhi.
"From the sale of spectrum in the current year, the Budget has provided for Rs 11,343 crore. We will exceed that," he added.
Overall, the government has set a revenue target of Rs 40,874.50 crore for this fiscal from the auction amount, one-time spectrum charge and annual regular licence fee.
About 403 megahertz of 2G spectrum in the 1800 MHz band and 46 MHz of spectrum in the premium 900 MHz band is being put up for auction.
It is must for Vodafone to get spectrum in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, Airtel in Delhi and Mumbai, and Loop Mobile in Mumbai for continuing operations as their permits are expiring in November.
RJIL is learnt to have applied for both the bands across the country that can lead to stiff competition in the 900 Mhz bands.
Leading GSM operators and RJIL have locked horns with each other on changes in annual spectrum fee. RJIL, which at present only has wireless broadband spectrum across country, is yet to start its mobile services.
This band is considered twice more efficient than 1800 Mhz band and limited frequencies are available in it for telecom services.
Vodafone was first to file application, followed by Airtel, Aircel, Tata Telservices, Idea Cellular, RJIL, Telewings (Uninor), Reliance Communications, an official source said.
Loop Mobile and Videocon Telecommunications did not apply for the participation.