India Spectrum Sale May Raise Over $9.2 Billion, Regulator Says

Indian mobile-phone operators may pay more than 570 billion rupees ($9.2 billion) should all spectrum be sold in an auction that is under way, the chairman of the telecommunications regulator said.

Airwaves in the 900-megahertz band, available in three cities, may be sold out, while supply may exceed demand in the 1,800-megahertz band being sold across the country, Rahul Khullar, chairman of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India said today in an interview with Bloomberg TV India. The combined floor price for the sale was 490 billion rupees, according to the notice inviting applications.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government is counting on revenue from the auction to help narrow India’s budget deficit to 4.8 percent of gross domestic product and prevent a credit-rating downgrade to junk. The sale is significant for incumbent operators such as Bharti Airtel Ltd. and the local unit of Vodafone Group Plc to retain airwaves expiring in November, even as new entrants such as billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. seek to acquire the resource.

“Some carriers here are fighting for their lives,” Khullar said.

India got bids totaling 446 billion rupees on the first day of the auction that started on Feb. 3. The auction is the government’s third attempt to raise revenue from the sale of airwaves in the last 15 months. The two previous sales flopped because buyers were discouraged by the floor price that was as much as triple the current amount.

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