Reliance Jio, Airtel, Vodafone Idea Pay Rs 4,500 Crore Spectrum Dues


Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have reportedly paid the Department of Telecom (DoT) more than Rs 4,500 crore in spectrum dues in last few days.

Written By Tech Desk | Mumbai | Updated On:

Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have reportedly paid the Department of Telecom (DoT) more than Rs 4,500 crore in spectrum dues in the last three to four days. According to news agency PTI, payments came in before the due date.  The sparring telcos some of which are reeling under acute financial stress and are seeking immediate relief measures have made the payment towards deferred spectrum liability which fell due on October 21.

Telcos clear spectrum dues

While Reliance Jio has paid Rs 1,133 crore to Telecom Department, Vodafone Idea has made Rs 2,421 crore payment towards spectrum dues. Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 977 crore. Taken together, these three telecom companies have paid more than Rs 4,531 crore towards spectrum dues late last week. While Reliance Jio and Airtel did not respond to PTI's request for comment, Vodafone Idea spokesperson said that the company does not comment on matters that are business as usual. Last year, in March, the government enhanced the number of annual instalments for spectrum payment from 10 to 16 years to provide a breather to the debt-laden telecom sector.

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However, with the industry reeling under financial stress, Vodafone Group Chairman Gerard Kleisterlee and CEO Nick Read recently met Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash, as the company sought a two-year moratorium on deferred spectrum payments, and other relief measures from the government. Vodafone Group has asserted that it is focused on the successful integration of business between Vodafone and Idea. The telecom sector has been battered by falling tariffs, eroding profitability and mounting debt in the face of stiff competition triggered by disruptive offerings of Reliance Jio. The industry has been seeking urgent relief such as a cut in levies like licence fee and spectrum charges, and release of GST input tax credit locked up with the government.

The entire telecom sector is rather peeved by policy and regulatory issues, battlelines have been drawn more recently over the contentious matter of call connect charges, where the regulator is reviewing whether or not the zero termination charge regime should be pushed back from the originally-stated timeline of January 1, 2020. Reliance Jio has alleged that any review of call connect charges by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) "sabotages" the Prime Minister's vision for Digital India, and will hit not only the regulator's credibility but also investor confidence as the move protects vested interests of some old operators.

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Bharti Airtel has favoured the continuation of call connect charges till 2022. Vodafone Idea and state-owned BSNL have also favoured levying of the interconnect usage charge (IUC), currently 6 paise per minute, on every incoming calls from the network of other operators.

(With PTI inputs)

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