BSNL wants to return spectrum while Qualcomm gets broadband licences

India’s state-owned operator BSNL has offered to hand back its Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) spectrum for 17 states to the government, and is seeking a $1.67bn refund after making heavy losses.

The firm wants to hand spectrum back to the government after having made a loss of $1.2bn over the past 12 months, primarily due to high staff cost and payments made for acquiring 3G and BWA spectrum.

Last year, it paid over $1.7bn to the government for spectrum during the BWA auction, and was allotted non-standardised band of BWA spectrum for 21 states. However, the company still wants to retain its spectrum in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana.

Over the past 12 months, BSNL has paid more than 47 per cent of its total income in salary to its employees, and the firm is now preparing a voluntary retirement plan to staff as part of its efforts to revive the company.

Meanwhile, US chipmaker Qualcomm is set to receive its broadband licence, after it was told it could lose its $1bn investment and ISP licence that it won in the country’s BWA auction.

The firm paid for wireless spectrum in a state auction in four of India’s states. The ministry had earlier cited Qualcomm missing the deadline for applying for an ISP licence as one of the reasons for rejecting the application, and that it had applied for four separate licences, whereas it should have applied for just one.

However, the US firm has now confirmed that it has received a letter from India’s telecoms ministry, offering to grant the company a licence covering all the four states.

The company had previously said it fully complied with the application process and will work with the Indian authorities to resolve the matter.

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