"The auction started at 9AM today," an official source said.
The Indian Department of Telecom (DoT) has put on block around 385MHz of radiowaves in the 1800MHz band, and 46MHz in the 900MHz band.
As per the rules of the auction, every company has been given quota of 240 minutes to extend bid round. This means throughout the auction, each company can extend auction round by total of 4 hours.
Normally 6-7 rounds take place in a day with each round of 60 minutes. There is a 20-minute break between the rounds.
The government has to conduct this third round of spectrum auction following an order by India's apex court - The Supreme Court in 2G case directing that all the radiowaves freed from the cancellation of 122 licences in February 2012 should be auctioned.
Besides, 900MHz has to be auctioned as some of the radiowaves in this band are held under old telecom licences which will start expiring from November 2014.
The 3G auction in 2010 lasted for 34 days, while the auction in November 2012 lasted for two days and March auction last year lasted for only one day.
In November 2012, bids worth Rs. 9,407 crores were received for spectrum worth Rs. 28,000 that was offered.
It is necessary for Vodafone to get spectrum in major Indian cities Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata; for Airtel in Delhi and Mumbai, and Loop Mobile in Mumbai for continuing operations because their licences are expiring in November.
The government is hopeful of all the spectrum put on the auction table being sold out.
The government has set a target of Rs. 40,874.50 crores for this fiscal from spectrum, including the auction amount, one-time spectrum charge and annual regular licence fee.