The Centre's coffers turned richer by an impressive Rs 67,719 crore as all the nine successful bidders of 3G telephony spectrum auction on Monday paid up their fees to control spectrum for 20 years to offer services such as video phone services, high-speed downloads and conferencing. With Rs. 20,000 crore more expected from the broadband wireless access (BWA) spectrum, some 15 per cent of the government's fiscal deficit can be wiped out.
For the winning bidders, it sets the stage to roll out advanced data-based services that will take the Internet revolution to the next level, powered by smartphones and high-speed movement of audio, video and software application files.
Third-generation, or 3G, services allow high speed data downloads of up to 2Mbps (megabits per second).
The government's revenue inflow is significantly higher than the Rs 35,000 crore, which it had budgeted to earn through sale of 3G and BWA spectrum. BWA spectrum is used for services based on the WiMAX and LTE technologies.
“We have received payment for 3G spectrum from all the successful bidders,” said a spokesman of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
Bharti Airtel paid the highest Rs 12,295.46 crore for 3G spectrum (radio waves) in 13 circles, followed by Vodafone Rs 11,617.86 crore.
Notably, both the state-owned companies – Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) – have paid up their one-time spectrum fees. They did not participate in the auction process and were alloted spectrum about a year and a half back on condition that they will have to match the price of successful bidders.
Both MTNL and BSNL were not willing to pay the price of 3G spectrum and had communicated it to the DoT official but seem to have given in to pressures that they must pay up.
All the successful bidders are expected to be alloted 3G spectrum in September, when it is vacated by defence forces. Subscribers are expected to enjoy 3G services by the first quarter of next year.