State owned telecom service provider BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd.) wants to surrender its BWA(Broadband Wireless Access) spectrum in 17 circles to get a refund of Rs 8,313.80 crore, reports Livemint. The report cites a DoT (Department of Telecom) source, to report that BSNL has written a letter to the DoT, conveying its intent and has said that it only wants to retain spectrum in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana service areas, although it had been allotted spectrum in all circles except Delhi and Mumbai. The letter also mentions that BSNL had been allotted spectrum in non standardized frequency band, which would hamper its prospects.
Earlier this year, senior BSNL officials had written a letter to Telecom Minister, Kapil Sibal, asking the government to reallocate the frequency band given to the telco or to refund the money it paid as the spectrum cost. It had said that BSNL had been alloted BWA spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band, which was non-standard and incompatible with TDD-LTE (Time Division Duplex-Long Term Evaluation), the technology which allows telcos to deliver internet access at higher speeds, compared to others.
Equipment costs to set-up network infrastructure is also said to be high and coverage area, reportedly less with the non-standard band. Private telcos had been allotted frequency in the 2.3 GHz frequency band, which is compatible with both TDD-LTE and WiMax, another wireless broadband standard.
Although BSNL had not participated in the auction, the Indian government had allocated spectrum to the telco. It’s most expensive acquisition was the Tamil Nadu circle at Rs. 2069.45 crore, followed by Karnataka at Rs. 1543.25 crore and Andhra Pradesh at Rs. 1059.12 crore. Strange that out of the three, it only wants to retain spectrum in Andhra Pradesh. Reliance Industries owned Infotel, Bharti, Aircel, Tikona, Augere and Qualcomm had won spectrum at almost the same cost per circle, so why did BSNL get spectrum in a non-standard band, while others did not?