Telecom operators today expressed confidence that consumers will soon be able to enjoy high-speed data services on their mobile phones, thus fuelling further growth in the telecom sector with the closing of the 3G auctions.
The auction for 3G licences, held over a period of 34 days, saw stiff competition between operators. The closing saw RCom and Aircel leading the race with by bagging 13 circles each and leaving the government with a Rs 67,710 crore revenue windfall.
"After several rounds of competitive bidding, Aircel has bagged 13 telecom circles in 3G for Rs 6,500 crore, which will allow us to take our data strategy to the next level," its COO Gurdeep Singh said in a statement. This further opens new revenue opportunities and gives way to a dynamic business model, it added.
Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications said it plans to strongly leverage its media, gaming, cinema and broadcasting capabilities to offer its customers a unique "true 3G experience."
No single operator, however, has managed to bag all the 22 circles on offer-—the total bid price for which touched Rs 16,750.58 crore on the 34th day of bidding today.
The government had originally estimated to raise Rs 35,000 crore from the sale.
Vodafone, which is second in terms of fee outgo, would be paying over Rs 11,617 crore for licences to offer high-speed voice and data service in nine circles. "We are excited to be able to offer 3G services to our customers and aim to launch the services before the end of the year. We expect a strong uptake for 3G in these markets particularly among the higher value customers, which is a growing segment owing to rising affluence and increasing urban population," Vodafone Essar CEO and managing director Marten Pieters said.
Bharti, however, said the auction format and severe shortage drove up the prices beyond reasonable levels. "We would like to point out that the auction format and severe spectrum shortage, along with ensuing policy uncertainty, drove the prices beyond reasonable levels. As a result, we could not achieve our objective of pan-India 3G footprint in this round," Bharti said in a statement.
IDC India analyst Naveen Mishra said, the government needs to ensure time-bound handover of spectrum to the winning operators. Tata Teleservices expressed hope that the rules of the auction are not changed mid-way.
CDMA mobile technology firm Qualcomm said India is now placed in the select league of nations with market-determined spectrum pricing with the completion of the auction.