Mumbai: India’s largest telecom operator, Vodafone Idea Limited has sought a two-year moratorium on annual spectrum payment citing high debt levels and stress on the balance sheet.
The amount to be paid by Vodafone Idea is estimated to be around Rs 10,000 core this year. According to reports The Department of Telecom has received representation from Vodafone Idea for 2-years additional moratorium on spectrum payment that they procured in auction. The request is being examined and it has to be scrutinised and considered by other departments/ministries in the government before taking any decision.
In response, a Vodafone Idea spokesperson said, “The telecom industry is critical to fulfilling the Digital aspirations of 1.3 billion Indians. Hence, it is important for it to be financially robust with multiple operators that can offer choice to citizens, ensure healthy competition and that national assets like spectrum are valued correctly. However, India’s telecom industry is currently suffering considerable financial stress and this has been extensively reported in the media.”
Vodafone and Idea have participated in five auctions that were held in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 before merging their mobile business. In five auctions, Vodafone alone had acquired spectrum worth Rs 79,343 crore, which is highest in terms of value compared to bids made by any other operator. Idea too had purchased spectrum worth Rs 63,597 crore in those auctions.