For governments, spectrum auctions mean big bucks. And it's no different in India, where the government expects to raise at least 648.4 billion Indian Rupees (US$10.3 billion) from the sale of new licenses in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands.
And according to the official announcement from the government, additional funds could be raised from the auction of 3G spectrum in the 2100 MHz band, though the industry is still waiting for details on exactly how much spectrum will become available and when.
The auctions are expected to start on February 23. Potential bidders are able to apply to participate up until February 2, with approved pre-qualified by February 13.
The auction of the 900 MHZ spectrum is particularly important for four of India's major operators -- Reliance Communications Ltd. , Vodafone India , Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) and Idea Cellular Ltd. -- as this will, in effect, act as a renewal process for licenses that are due to expire later this year.
The Indian government will no doubt be hoping that its auctions go the same was as those in the US, where the current 'mid-band' spectrum sell-off has attracted bids of nearly $45 billion to date. (See FCC Mid-Band Auction Nears $45B in Bids.)
At the end of November, India had 937 million mobile numbers in use across its 22 "circles" (service areas), of which 824.4 million were deemed to be "active" by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) . There are 13 mobile operators currently offering services, with Bharti Airtel (23%), Vodafone India (18.9%) and Idea Cellular (15.8%) the market leaders.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading