India's largest ever 2G & 3G spectrum auction began Wednesday morning, with the government expecting to fetch over Rs 82,000 crore from it.
However, the government is hopeful of getting around Rs one lakh crore from the sale of radiowaves used for mobile telephony.
The much-awaited auctions for spectrum or airwaves for the 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands has eight companies in the fray.
The eight telecom service providers participating are Reliance Communications, Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India, Tata Teleservices, Uninor, Idea Cellular and Aircel.
These eight companies have submitted an earnest money of Rs.20,435 crore.
The government plans to sell 380.75 MHz of spectrum in three bands across 17 out of 22 telecom areas in the country.
It will also put on sale 5 MHz in the 2,100 MHz band, which is used for 3G services in 17 out of 22 telecom areas.
At the minimum or auction start price for the 2,100 mega hertz band or 3G spectrum, the government would garner at least Rs 17,555 crore. The reserve price for auction of 2G spectrum in 800 MHz, 900 Mhz and 1800 MHz bands will fetch the government Rs 64,840 crore.
Most of the spectrum being put up for the auction is presently held by Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Reliance Telecom. Their licences are expiring in 2015-16.
Mobile licences for Idea Cellular's 9 circles, 6 circles of Airtel and 7 circles each of Vodafone and Reliance Telecom are coming up for renewal.
Overall there are 29 licences in 18 service areas which expire in 2015-16. These licences hold 184 MHz spectrum in the 900 MHz band and 34.2 MHz in 1800 MHz band.
It is mandatory for these companies to bid for spectrum if they have to continue offering mobile and other telecom services as their permit is expiring.
The government had raked in Rs 62,162 crore from the last spectrum auction in February 2014.