March 2020


The Supreme Court decision is creating chaos in the telecom sector and pushing the telecom companies to the brink of bankruptcy. The implications and repercussions of this is very severe and catastrophic across the ecosystem. Apart from the telecom sector it will significantly impact the broadband sector and the DTH sector.

SC did not grant Vodafone Idea any relief, and they have to pay ₹ 53,000 crore to the DoT as part of its AGR dues. Bharti Airtel paid ₹ 10,000 crore to the telecom department as the part amount of its adjusted gross revenue (AGR) dues. Bharti Airtel's overall AGR dues as assessed by the department of telecommunications (DoT) stand at ₹ 35,586 crore including licence fee and spectrum usage charge. Tata Teleservices, which had sold its mobile services business to Airtel, has dues of ₹ 13,800 crores. The company has calculated ₹ 2197 crore worth of dues only.

So far, only Reliance Jio has fully paid its AGR dues of ₹ 195 crore.

Department of Telecommunications has sought ₹ 1.72 lakh crore in past statutory dues from state-owned gas utility GAIL for IP-1 and IP-2 licences as well as Internet Service Provider (ISP) licence.

DoT is also seeking ₹ 1.25 lakh crore from PowerGrid which had both a national long-distance as well as an internet licence. PowerGrid says it has an adjusted gross revenue (AGR) of ₹ 3,566 crore since 2006-07 and after adding penalty it comes to ₹ 22,168 crore.

Infrastructure provider category-I (IP-I) are those infrastructure providers who provide assets such as dark fibre, right of way, duct space and towers to the licensees of telecom services.

If Vodafone shuts down its operation it could push the opex and capex levels up in the near-term for Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio. It remains to be seen how the sector is able to recoup from this and regain its rhythm for the future. n