New Delhi: The Telecom Ministry is likely to auction one slot of broadband wireless access (BWA) licence spectrum on pan-India basis after getting back airwaves from the state-run PSU BSNL.
The Department of Telecom (DoT) has given in-principle approval to the proposal of BSNL to surrender its BWA licence in nine circles, out of the total 22 service areas for which the telecom operator had paid over Rs 8,500 crore last year.
"After taking BWA spectrum from the BSNL, the government will have airwaves on pan-India basis as the department is already having the spectrum in several circles. So, the government will auction it and whatever the amount they will get, BSNL is likely to get back around 80 to 90 percent of what it had paid last year, about Rs 6,700 crore," sources in the know said.
At present in BWA, 20 Mhz of spectrum is available but not on pan-India basis. The telecom ministry is already in talks with the Finance Ministry to undertake auction of the airwaves.
According to reports, sale of one block of BWA spectrum could fetch about Rs 13,000 crore, a move that would help the government in meeting the fiscal deficit target Rs Rs 40,000 crore.
The finance ministry had written twice to the DoT to immediately auction wireless broadband spectrum in order raise funds. Last year, auction of 3G and BWA spectrum had earned a whopping Rs 1.06 lakh crore to the government.
The BWA auction was for two slots of 20 MHz each of pan-India spectrum. The government had raised Rs 67,719 crore from 3G spectrum auction. While, it got Rs 39,000 crore through BWA auction.
BSNL had 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.
BSNL was allotted non-standardised band of BWA spectrum for 21 circles. The PSU offers telecom services in all areas of the country, barring Delhi and Mumbai.
Saddled with losses, BSNL had recently written a letter to the DoT offering to return of BWA spectrum in all 22 circles.
The letter had stated BSNL was allotted non-standardised band of BWA and could not be put in use and hence the company wanted to return the spectrum.
Earlier, BSNL 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.