At the end of Day 18, which saw 6 new rounds of bidding, the total bids increased to over Rs 1,09,000 crore, up from Rs 1,05,000 crore on Day 17. The Department of Telecom informed that the 900 MHz and 800 MHz band continued to witness brisk bidding, and about 89% of the spectrum has been provisionally allocated to bidders.
However, unlike Day 17 there was no excess demand for spectrum in any of the four spectrum bands on Day 18 (pdf), which was a first for the entire duration of the 2015 spectrum auctions that commenced on March 4.
Though there was no excess demand, the Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh (East) and Uttar Pradesh (West) telecom circles attracted heavy bids in the 900 MHz band. In the 1800 MHz band, North East, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh (East) circles saw robust bidding. Bidding in the 800 MHz band was stable, with no excess demand in any of the circles, while the 2100 MHz band remained inactive.
It’s worth noting that the total bids are well above the Rs 80,000 crore target the government had set before the auction began. It is likely that telcos will increase tariff after the auction closes, in order to offset the huge investments.
Remember that the mobile licenses for 9 telecom circles of Idea, 7 circles each of Vodafone and Reliance Communications and 6 circles of Airtel are up for renewal in 2015-16. These 29 licences up for renewal are for 18 telecom circles, including Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, UP (West), Gujarat, Odisha and Kerala, which are essentially must-win circles for some these telcos. All four telcos needed to buy spectrum in the 900 MHz band to continue uninterrupted operations, which was the reason for fervent activity in the 900 MHz band during the first few days of the 2015 spectrum auctions.
2015 Spectrum Auction coverage: