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Bharti Airtel prepays Rs 8,024 crore of deferred spectrum liabilities

They are separate from Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) liabilities which are the usage and licensing fees that telecom operators are charged by the government

Bharti Airtel

Subhayan Chakraborty New Delhi

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Bharti Airtel has prepaid Rs. 8,024 crore to the department of telecom (DoT) towards part prepayment of deferred liabilities. It is pertaining to spectrum acquired during auction for the year 2015, the company said in a stock exchange filing on Monday. 

The instalments had an interest rate of 10 per cent and have been prepaid by Airtel, leveraging much lower cost financing available to it, the company said.

Deferred spectrum liabilities are dues owed by telecom operators to the government for airwaves bought in the previous years. These are paid in instalments. 

They are separate from adjusted gross revenue (AGR) liabilities, which are the usage and licensing fees that the operators are charged by the government.

The three private sector telecom operators — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea — together owe spectrum dues worth a whopping Rs. 3.78 trillion.

They are to be paid over annual instalments from FY23-24 till FY38-39, the Lok Sabha was informed last year.

“Airtel continues to enjoy access to well-diversified sources of capital / financing, allowing it to have enhanced financial flexibility in its capital structure, including optimised cost of financing, using all opportunities for significant interest savings, like this prepayment,” the company said in a press release on Monday.

Last year, the company had cleared Rs. 24,334 crore of liabilities ahead of scheduled maturities. In 2021, Airtel had prepaid Rs. 15,519 crore, clearing all dues relating to airwaves bought in the 2014 sale.

Meanwhile, Reliance Jio paid Rs. 30,791 crore towards dues last year on all spectrum purchased before March 2021.

This included accrued interest for spectrum purchased in 2014-2016 and spectrum acquired through a right-to-use agreement with Airtel in 2021.

The payment of deferred spectrum liabilities is expected to make up a large chunk of the government’s telecom revenues during the current year.

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First Published: Jul 31 2023 | 4:03 PM IST

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