In the case of allotment of spectrum, the government discriminated BSNL in more than one way.
- The 3G Spectrum was allotted to private companies through auction circle by circle, which helped them to select the circle of their choice and bid. Thus they reduced the charges to be paid to the government. In the case of BSNL, it was not allowed to bid for any circle, but was compelled to pay charges for all the circles at the highest bid in each circle.
- Though the private companies like Airtel, Reliance, Vodafone etc. did bid for only few circles each, by an agreement/understanding they started providing 3G services in all the circles, without licence. Thus by paying a small amount for spectrum, they provided services through out the country. BSNL had to pay for all circles.
- In the case of BWA spectrum, private companies were allotted better spectrum which was suitable for latest and future technologies like Long Term Evolution(LTE), TDD etc. But in the case of BSNL a lower spectrum was allotted which was not suited to LTE, TDD and other advanced technologies. This discrimination compelled BSNL to surrender BWA spectrum, except in four circles. BSNL has paid a whooping Rs. 8,313 crores for BWA spectrum. At least Rs. 7,000 crore is to be paid back to BSNL for the surrendered spectrum. While the government is negotiating with Vodafone for reducing its due tax of Rs.. 14,000 crore to help the MNC, it has no time to refund the money for the surrendered spectrum to BSNL.
In fact, being a government company, BSNL should be exempted from paying the spectrum charges. BSNL was compelled to pay Rs. 18,500 crores to government together for 3G and BWA Spectrum, thus taking away all the cash reserves of the PSU. This full amount should be refunded to BSNL to help it to continue its expansion and development.