Spectrum auction sees big telecos like Airtel, Reliance and Vodafone hold onto 2G bands

In an unexpected turn at India’s spectrum auction, top telecom companies such as Reliance Communications, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone are bidding big on 2G. This whole scenario is at odds with all the melodrama which was played out before the event began, with several network operators asking for it to be postponed owing to lack of 3G spectrum.

What’s more, the trends indicate that some of the already limited 2100MHz 3G band may not find any buyers. The same may be said about certain 2G spectrum too in the 800MHz and 1800MHz categories. It’s been five days since the auction started and service providers have been doing all they can to hold onto 2G waves, according to a post on Economic Times.

Mobile Tower

2G in the 900MHz band is supposedly attracting the most enthusiastic takers. In fact, the demand is so great, its price has soared up to over 65 percent of its reserve cost. The overall revenue reported to be coming in from bids made between March 4 and 8, is pegged at Rs 86000 crores. Last year’s auction pulled in Rs 50000 crores within the first four days.

Also see: India’s largest spectrum auction will make govt richer by Rs 65000 crores

Airtel, Vodafone, Idea Cellular and others with expiring licenses need to make sure they win back the bands they’re operating on presently in order to keep their customers in the concerned circles. But one might wonder why these companies make such a well publicized play for 3G above any other spectrum. Many are of the opinion that this has to do with the cost.

Network providers are said to be dissatisfied with the reserve price of the 2100MHz band and wish for it to be revised. At any rate, the responsible telecom authorities are likely to hold another 3G auction in early 2016 during which a bigger chunk of it may be available for sale. Meanwhile, CDMA waves are enjoying higher interest than was initially anticipated.