India’s largest auction for any national resource gets underway on Friday as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom), Tata DoCoMo, Vodafone Essar, Idea and Etisalat bid for 3G spectrum allocation.
This would mark the first online auction for spectrum. “Online auctioning is very transparent process and there is no scope for cartelisation,” said R.S.P. Sinha, former CMD of Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL).
“It (online auction) is beneficial for the bidders as top officials of a company can take decisions sitting in their boardroom,” he said. “It is good for the government too as it gets the best price. Globally all major tenders are done online.”
The auction process will start at 9 a.m. on Friday, and will continue till 7.30 p.m. daily, six days a week, till all slots are finalised.
Six of the nine bidders — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Telecom, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices, Aircel and Vodafone Essar — have bid for all the 22 telecom circles.
Sources said Videocon has bid for only one circle, while S Tel and Etisalat have bid for a limited number of circles.
Industry observers feel some of the large telecom service providers would be willing to pay a higher price for 3G spectrum as it would help them in meeting requirement for carrying voice.
“Considering shortage of 2G spectrum and the fact that 3G can carry more voice traffic compared to 2G for similar spectrum, existing operators may bid aggressively for 3G,” said Ravi Sharma, executive chairman of CMAI Association of India.
The entry of Qualcomm in the bid for broadband wireless access (BWA) is seen as having changed the entire game. It is believed the company will bid aggressively to corner one of the two BWA slots are up for sale.