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Jio, Vodafone Idea, Airtel pay govt over Rs 4500 crore in spectrum dues

Reliance Jio has paid Rs 1,133 crore to the Department of Telecom, Vodafone Idea paid Rs 2,421 crore and Bharti Airtel paid Rs 977 crore

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Telecom sector
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.

Private telecom operators Reliance Jio, and have paid the Telecom Department over Rs 4,500 crore in spectrum dues in the last three to four days, according to sources.

Sources said that the 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 (or instalment payment for radiowaves bought in past auctions) which fell due on October 21.

While Mukesh Ambani-led has paid Rs 1,133 crore to the Department of Telecom, has made Rs 2,421 crore payment towards spectrum dues. Sunil Mittal's has paid Rs 977 crore. Taken together, these three players have paid over Rs 4,531 crore towards spectrum dues late last week.

Emails sent to and Airtel went unanswered, while a spokesperson said that the company does not comment on matters that are business as usual.

The government, in March last year, enhanced the number of annual instalments for spectrum payment from 10 to 16 years to provide a breather to the debt-laden telecom sector.

But 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.

The British telecom giant 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 The industry has been seeking urgent relief such as cut in levies like licence fee and spectrum charges, and release of GST input tax credit locked up with the government.

In a sector stung 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. has favoured continuation of call connect charges till 2022.

Vodafone Idea and state-owned BSNL too have favoured levying of the interconnect usage charge (IUC), currently 6 paise per minute, on every incoming calls from the network of other operators.

First Published: Tue, October 22 2019. 16:40 IST
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