The telecom spectrum auction started on Saturday, with total bids reaching US$8.1 bn, 21% higher than our estimate of US$6.7 bn. Most of the participation was in 1800 and 2300 MHz bands, with 57% of total bids contributed by these two bands.
Only two circles (Mumbai in 1800 band and Gujarat in 2300 band) saw meaningful price increases (>10% vs reserve price). Spectrum for Tata Teleservices is up for renewal in Mumbai and Bharti does not have 2300 in Gujarat; the high level of bidding activity suggests Jio may be looking to add an additional block of spectrum in 2300 band in a few circles, in our view
We were surprised by the level of participation in the 2500 MHz band, and believe Vodafone and Bharti to be the likely bidders as per our analysis of their gaps in high capacity spectrum. Bidding in 1800 band has mostly been in line with estimates, with Vodafone and Idea potentially looking to fill 4G gaps;