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Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group Plc's Indian unit submitted applications on Wednesday to bid in a spectrum auction next month, separate sources at the two companies said.

India will auction spectrum in two separate frequency bands starting February 3 and the government hopes to raise at least $1.8 billion from the sale, crucial in its efforts to rein in the country's budget deficit.

Carriers have to submit initial interest for participating in the auction by Wednesday.

Bharti and Vodafone India Ltd, the country's top two phone carriers by users and revenue, are required to buy spectrum in some key cities to extend their permits in those areas beyond 2014.

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