New Delhi: Facing reimbursement of over Rs 8,300 crore to BSNL for surrendering BWA spectrum in several circles, the government may offer the PSU new frequency band similar to the one given to private operators.
The Telecom Ministry has said it has one slot of Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum available in most of the circles.
BSNL has offered to surrender the spectrum, saying it was alloted non-standardised frequency, putting the PSU at disadvantage vis-a-vis private operators.
If materialised, the move would dash all the hopes of auctioning the spectrum as desired by the Finance Ministry to earn revenues to check the burgeoning fiscal deficit.
"All possibilities including replacing one slot of BWA licence with BSNL's existing spectrum... no possibilities off the table as far as the options are concerned. We (Ministry) are looking at them," a source in the Department of Telecom said.
"If they (BSNL) want to vacate some slot as they are not happy with the existing frequency band and want to shift to another band that will also be looked at," he added.
BSNL has recently written a letter to DoT in which the telecom operator had offered to surrender its Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum in 17 circles, seeking refund of Rs 8,313.80 crore.
The letter had stated that BSNL was allotted non-standardised band of BWA and cannot be put in use, so the company wants to return.
However, BSNL wants to retain Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana service areas.
Last year, BSNL had paid over Rs 8,500 crore to the government as spectrum charges.
DoT still has one slot of BWA spectrum left with them which could be auctioned, if not given to BSNL, as desired by the Finance Ministry, the official added.
Earlier, the PSU had floated a tender to allow franchisees to run services on revenue share basis, which came under DoT scanner due to irregularities found in allotting BSNL's WiMAX franchisee.
The employee unions of state-run BSNL had also asked the government to refund over Rs 8,313 crore paid by the PSU for acquiring non-standardised Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum.
BSNL is understood to have registered a loss of over Rs 6,000 crore for 2010-11, mainly due to high staff cost and payments made for acquiring 3G and BWA spectrum.
First Published: Sunday, October 23, 2011, 14:22