Government gets full spectrum money as BSNL, MTNL pay up

All the seven private telecom companies which had won third-generation (3G) spectrum in the recent auction, as well as state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, which had been allocated spectrum in advance, collectively paid Rs67,719 crore to the government on Monday, the last day for payment of the bid amount.

BSNL and MTNL companies together paid Rs16,750 crore. The two did not participate in the auction but had received spectrum 18 months ago on condition that they pay an amount equal to the highest bid. It was widely reported that the two state-owned companies could get concessional payment terms, but this apparently did not happen.

The seven private bidders collectively paid Rs50,964 crore. Bharti Airtel paid the highest at Rs12,295.46 crore for 3G in 13 circles, followed by Vodafone, which paid Rs11,617.86 crore for nine circles. BSNL paid Rs10,186.56 crore across all circles, except in Delhi and Mumbai where MTNL operates.

Tata Teleservices paid Rs5,864.29 crore for nine circles. ''We now hope that the government will allocate spectrum well in time according to its commitment thereby enabling us to roll our services at the earliest,'' the company said.

Reliance Communications and Aircel, which have both got spectrum in 13 circles, paid Rs8,585.04 crore and Rs6,499.46 crore respectively to the department of telecommunications. Idea forked out Rs5,768.59 crore for 11 circles and STel Rs337.67 crore for three circles.

The huge payments had an impact on the country's banking system, which reportedly turned net borrower during the Reserve Bank of India's liquidity adjustment facility operations after several months today, as the huge payment for 3G spectrum fee drained out cash from the system. Telecom operators together borrowed over Rs45,000 crore from banks to pay the bid price.