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Seven operators confirmed for India’s imminent spectrum auction

India’s Department of Telecom has revealed the seven operators that have applied to bid in its upcoming spectrum auction.

Having lodged applications before Wednesday’s deadline, the operators who will be bidding in the auction – scheduled for October 1st – are market leader Bharti Airtell, Vodafone India, Reliance Jio, Rcom, Idea Cellular, Aircel and Tata Teleservices.

RCom and Aircel will compete in the auction despite signing a merger agreement; the deal is due to close in 2017. Telenor stated in July that it did not plan to participate, and has expectedly abstained – ostensibly as it believes the prices are too high, although there are rumours that it is planning to pull out of the market.

The upcoming auction is the largest India has ever held, and high reserve prices prompted speculation that it could raise as much as INR5.6 billion ($83 billion). However, the government has played down these expectations. A total of 2.354.55MHz of spectrum will be available across seven bands - 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2500MHz.

Vodafone India and Idea Cellular are expected to snap up as much 4G spectrum as possible in order to compete more effectively with Airtel and Jio, which both have nationwide 4G presence. Vodafone and Idea currently only hold 4G spectrum in around half of the country’s 22 service areas; telecoms minister Manoj Sinha has stated that he expects the auction will be seen by operators as an opportunity to fill gaps in their coverage. 

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