The Department of Telecommunications on Monday said that seven telecom operators have deposited Rs 14,653 crore as earnest payment for the spectrum auction that starts from October 1. Of the operators, Reliance Jio is the biggest contributor, having made a deposit of Rs 6,500 crore, reported Business Standard. Spectrum relates to radio frequencies given to the telecom sector for communication over the airwaves.

The next in line are Vodafone India that has deposited Rs 2,740 crore, while Idea Cellular has submitted Rs 2,000 crore and Bharti Airtel's contribution stands at Rs 1,980 crore. The remaining three telecom operators – Tata Teleservices, Reliance Communications and Aircel – have submitted Rs 1,000 crore, Rs 313 crore and Rs 120 crore, respectively. The earnest money deposit gives the company eligibility points and indicates the circle and spectrum band it will bid for.

Mobile frequencies in seven bands – 700 MHz, 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz, 2,300 MHz and 2,500 MHz – will be up for grabs. All the airwaves can be used to deploy the 4G-Long Term Evolution technology. Of all these frequencies, 700 MHz band is the most premium one because the estimated cost of providing service through it is about one-third of 3G under the 2,100 MHz band, reported Money Control. An operator that buys spectrum in 700 MHz band will need to spend a minimum of Rs 57,425 crore.

Based on their deposits, the DoT said Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular are the only four telecom majors that can bid in any spectrum band in any of the 22 telecom geographical circles across the country.

According to experts, the upcoming spectrum auction, which is being touted as India's largest, will help in doing away with fragmentation and improve service quality. Spectrum worth around Rs 80,000 crore will be sold during the auction, reported Business Standard. This will, in turn, help the government achieve its revenue target of Rs 98,995 crore from the communication services in 2016-'17.