BSNL, MTNL may get payment waiver for 3G spectrum

The union government is considering a proposal to waive a significant part of the Rs1,6750.58 crore that the two public sector telecom companies, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd, are supposed to pay for 3G spectrum in order to safeguard the cash reserves of the two firms, according to reports.

They were supposed to cough up the amount in 10 days, along with the other successful bidders.

The government is also examining two alternative proposals to stabilise the financials of BSNL. The first involves refunding a significant amount that it will have to pay for 3G spectrum.

But if this refund option is unviable, the centre may allow BSNL to defer payment for these airwaves until the company completes its restructuring process.

This will give BSNL a 24-month window to pay for the airwaves, unlike private operators. In addition to the Rs10,186.58 crore that BSNL will have to pay for 3G airwaves and assuming that it will have to shell out upwards of another Rs7,000 crore for broadband spectrum, this will wipe out nearly 50 per cent of its cash reserves, which stands at Rs36,392 crore.

Having got wind of the move, the private telecom companies had already raised a howl of protest early this month.