New Delhi

The Indian government expects to raise as much as Rs5.83 trillion (Dh308.3 billion, $83.8 billion) from its latest round of airwaves auction, even as the carriers battle a brutal tariff war that has eroded their earnings and forced some to exit.

The Narendra Modi-led government plans to sell 8,600 megahertz of telecom airwaves this year across multiple frequency bands, said a telecom ministry official, who did not want to be identified as the information is not public.

Spectrum auctions — a significant source of revenue for the national exchequer in the past — are coming at a particularly challenging time for India’s mobile-phone carriers. Once a crowded space with a dozen operators, the sector has shrunk and the remaining operators are struggling to protect market share and earnings from billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s telecom upstart that has lured away subscribers with free calls and very cheap data plans.

The telecom watchdog had recommended in August last year that price bands be lowered for some telecom airwaves to make them more viable.