India’s cabinet reportedly approved a mammoth spectrum auction plan, proposed by regulators, which is expected to raise a record INR5.6 trillion ($85 billion).

In a report released today, Times of India quoted an “official source” which claims that the spectrum auction plan “has been cleared”, although no official confirmation has yet been released.

The upcoming auction, which for some time has been touted as potentially the country’s largest ever, will see airwaves up for grabs in the premium 700MHz band, as well as 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2300MHz and 2500MHz frequencies, and will be held in September, adds the report.

If estimates are correct, it will significantly surpass the country’s last auction, held in 2015, which raised a then record INR1.1 trillion, with eight winners in total.

Spectrum in the 700MHz band will cost the most, the paper added, with the reserve price set at approximately INR11.5 billion per 1MHz, meaning a company will have to spend a minimum INR57.5 billion for a block of 5MHz.

According to the report, the cost of delivering services in the band is estimated to be 70 per cent lower than the 2100MHz band used for 3G.

The sale of 700MHz looks set to go ahead despite operators in India voicing their concerns over the move, arguing that it should be put off for two years until the 4G ecosystem in the country has developed more.

Sources add that a notice inviting application is likely to be issued on 1 July, followed by preliminary bidding on 6 July.