State-owned BNSL in India forced to bid on lousy 3G spectrums

The employees association of the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) telecoms company in India is threatening strike action following claims that it was forced to pay out Rs 18,500 crore (or US $3,934,158,625) for its 3G and broadband spectrum, and now wants a refund from the state.

BSNL claims that it didn’t have the chance to bid and choose its spectrum circles as privately owned companies were – instead it was handed its spectrums, except Delhi and Mumbai, and told that it must match the winning bid.

The Joint Action Committee (JAC), which is represented by BSNL execs, has announced that it wants all the money back and wants to exempt the Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) from having to pay a licence fee on fixed lines. If it doesn’t get its way, it is threatening strike action.

It said: “BSNL has been arbitrarily forced to pay on 3G and BWA airwaves in total contravention of the provisions envisaged in [the] National Telecom Policy, 1999. Blatant discrimination meted out by insensitive and indifferent bureucracy in DoT to BSNL by depriving it of the legitimate opportunity to bid for its choice of circles deserves the strongest condemnation.”

Perhaps BSNL shouldn’t be mounting its righteous high-horse just yet: on Sunday a deputy general manager of BSNL, along with an accomplice, had been hauled into the nick for accepting bribes. The alleged bribee was Fateh Singh Meena, head of telecoms for the Rajasthan region.