The Indian government on Friday approved the results of the auction of spectrum for third generation (3G) telecom services and asked the winning firms to make payments by May 31.
The auction, which concluded Wednesday, has fetched the exchequer Rs 67,718.95 crore ($15 billion). The amount is set to prune the government's fiscal deficit, pegged at Rs 381,408 crore ($84 billion) for this year.
"The government has approved the results of the 3G spectrum auction," said a statement from the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).
A committee, headed by the cabinet secretary, was to formally approve the auction results.
The 3G auction, which began April 9, was conducted over 34 days and involved 183 rounds of bidding across 22 service areas.
The DoT has issued separate instructions to the winners, including Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications and Aircel, on the payment mechanism and further steps.
All the winners will have to deposit the money by May 31, a DoT official said.
The winning firms will be allowed to offer 3G services on a commercial basis from Sep 1.
The state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL), which were issued airwaves for 3G services earlier, will have to pay the government spectrum fee based on the winner's price for the circles where these companies operate.
The DoT has also written a letter to these companies to make the payments for the 3G spectrum within 10 days, the official said.
While MTNL will have to shell out Rs 6,564 crore for Delhi and Mumbai, BSNL will have to pay the government Rs 10,186.6 crore for the rest of the circles.
The companies have earlier clarified that they have not sought any concessions from the government on the payments.
The Dot also said the auction of airwaves for broadband wireless access (BWA) services will begin Monday.
As many as 11 companies -- Bharti Airtel, Reliance WiMax, Idea Cellular, Aircel, Augere Mauritius Limited, Infotel Broadband Services, Qualcomm, Spice Internet Service Provider, Tata Communications Internet Services, Tikona Digital Networks and Vodafone Essar -- will participate in the BWA auction.
The government has set Rs 1,750 crore as the base price for a pan-India BWA slot.