India’s spectrum auctions, after eight days and 49 bidding rounds, have brought in bids worth INR1.02 trillion ($16.27 billion) from eight operators.

About 86 per cent of the total spectrum being auctioned off has been provisionally sold, said.

The much-anticipated auctions, which began on 4 March, have seen a fierce bidding war for the 900MHz band, with Bharti Airtel, Idea and Vodafone competing to retain spectrum in this efficient band since their licences expire over the next year. This band, under new rules, can also be used to offer 3G services.

The Economic Times reported today that Reliance Jio Infocomm is looking to pick up 3G spectrum at a more reasonable price after the country’s three largest operators have had to spend heavily on the 900MHz band, likely “draining them of much of their resources and appetite for further competition”.

The newspaper quoted an executive with a leading mobile player as saying: “It appears as though Jio is pushing up the price for 900MHz knowing it is critical for us. Obviously, if retaining 900MHz eats up our war chest, we won’t be able to bid as aggressively for 2.1GHz.”

Demand for the spectrum in the 2.1GHz band (3G), however, has been weak, with bids just 4 per cent over the reserve price, the Times said.

There has been no interest in the 2.1GHz band in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Mumbai, while the 800MHz band has had no takers in Bihar, Karnataka, Kolkata, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh East and West.