Telecom market leader Reliance Jio, second ranked Bharti Airtel and financially stressed Vodafone Idea have filed applications for participation in the upcoming 4G spectrum auctions, due to start on March 1, industry executives told ET.

The auction for over 2300 MHz of airwaves – valued at Rs 3.92 lakh crore at base price – is likely to see limited bidding intensity for spectrum worth less than Rs50,000 crore, with Jio and Airtel expected to be the main players.

From the upcoming spectrum auction, the government is expected to net less than Rs 48,000 crore. Around a fourth of this could come into the government coffers this fiscal itself, as upfront payment.

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Both Airtel and Jio have 5G-ready networks. Bulking up existing spectrum will allow telcos to launch 5G services immediately without waiting for sale of 5G airwaves.Although initially , Jio, the sole profit-making telco, was estimated to spend Rs 20,000 crore and Airtel was forecast to spend Rs 10,000-15,000 crore, the markets estimate the two telcos to spend 15-20% on additional 4G airwaves.

This investment will go in select bands in the metro and category A circles, where 4G spectrum assets can now be deployed for future 5G use quickly

Vodafone Idea, financially the weakest of the three private telcos, is unlikely to participate meaningfully in the sale.




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