The department of telecom is set to hold Bharti Airtel liable for some dues of Videocon tele and Aircel.
Bharti Airtel’s application for permission to increase its foreign shareholding limit to 100 per cent is still pending with the government.
Assets up for sale include airwaves in the 850 MHz band in 14 of India’s 22 telecom circles, about 43,000 telecom towers, some fibre and data centres. Bharti Airtel has made the highest bid of Rs 9,000 crore and has offered upfront payment but wants all the assets and not parts of it.
The sector regulator has suggested a base price for 5G airwaves of Rs 492 per MHz and has proposed a minimum sale of 20 MHz blocks. That would mean a telco having to spend close to Rs 10,000 crore for 20 MHz and Rs 50,000 crore for 100 MHz--rates that the companies have said are exorbitant.
New customers are now being billed, and old customers have been told to choose one pack or another.
The battle between Aircel , which keeled under a debt of Rs 26,000 crore, and Department of Telecommunications (DoT) started when the latter demanded dues on airwaves be paid to the government failing which licenses should be suspended .
Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Varde Capital and UV Asset Reconstruction Company have submitted bids to buy assets of debt-ridden Reliance Communications.
While Airtel and Jio are expected to bid mainly for RCom's 850 MHz spectrum, I Squared Capital is likely to vie for the telco's data centres and optic fibre assets. RCom's 43,000 towers, housed under Reliance Infratel, are also up for sale.
The telcos have sought a limited review of the October 24 ruling, and haven’t challenged the entire SC order.
The industry body drew parallels between the airlines and telecom sector where both have faced consolidation, price wars and are capital intensive sectors which have high taxes. The letter highlights the impact of AGR dues which if recovered, will impact viability of telcos and other players in the industry.
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