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Pvt telcos against govt aid to BSNL, MTNL for surrendering BWA spectrum

Telcos request all the operators should be given same treatment

Sounak Mitra  |  New Delhi 

Private telecom operators have asked the government not to consider any financial support to the state-run telecom operators–Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL), by way of refunding the Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum fee and offering financial aid for retaining spectrum beyond 4.4MHz in GSM and 2.5MHz in CDMA.

In a letter to communications and IT minister Kapil Sibal on January 29, private telecom operators associations—Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India (AUSPI) and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), have said that any refund or financial support provided to the PSUs against the National Telecom Policy and would be “unfair to the entire industry and it will severely distort the level playing field and competition of the industry.”

The associations have also requested that all the operators–both private and state-run, should be given the same treatment as the private operators.

Both BSNL and MTNL has said that they would not be able to use the BWA spectrum and would surrender the spectrum. BSNL and MTNL together have aksed the Government to refund More than Rs 11,000 crore that the two state-run telcos have deposited for the BWA spectrum.

The state-owned telcos have also sought financial support from the Government on the proposed one-time fee for the retention of spectrum beyond 4.4MHz in GSM and 2.5MHz in CDMA.

The Ministry of Telecommunications is likely to refer the matter to the Indian Cabinet soon.

According to the COAI-AUSPI letter to the minister, the clause 2.2 of the Notice Inviting Application (NIA) for BWA spectrum had mentioned that BSNL and MTNL should not be participating in the 3G Auction, but should be required to match the Winning Price achieved in the respective service areas in the 3G Auction as payment for the spectrum allotted to them.

“BSNL and MTNL shall not be participating in the BWA Auction, but shall be required to match the Winning Price achieved in the respective service areas in the BWA auction as payment for the spectrum allotted to them.”

“If at any stage, the spectrum allocation is revoked, withdrawn, varied or surrendered, no refund will be made,” according to the Clause 3.7 of the NIA for BWA spectrum.

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First Published: Tue, January 29 2013. 21:55 IST