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Pandemic does what Modi's note ban failed to do for India

The Reserve Bank of India last year said it aimed to increase digital transactions to about 15% of gross domestic product by 2021, fro ...
The Economic Times
English EditionEnglish Editionहिन्दीગુજરાતી
| 13 July, 2020, 02:11 PM IST | E-Paper


    AGR payment: Telecom companies to wait for SC decision

    Vodafone Idea informs DoT it won't make part payment today, Airtel may follow suit.

    Voda Idea, Airtel may face hefty payouts if forced to cancel Huawei, ZTE deals

    The telcos said there was no message as yet from govt to reduc...

    Telecom dues make Vodafone Idea, Airtel distributors jittery

    Vodafone Idea has said it will shut shop if the appeal fails and it has to pay R...

    • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has sought public consultation on whether the incremental spectrum usage charge (SUC), in case of spectrum sharing, must be applicable only to shared bands.

      The proposals are among several measures to be discussed on Friday by the Digital Communications Commission (DCC), the inter-ministerial panel comprising top officials, that could provide much-needed relief to beleaguered telcos such as Vodafone Idea and Airtel.

      Network i2i has sold 23.1 million shares in Helios Towers at £1.6 per unit, amounting to a 2.3% stake in the UK tower company. The Helios stake sale proceeds would be used to retire Airtel’s debt. The latest stake sale comes on the heels of Bharti Telecom, the promoter company of Bharti Airtel, raising Rs 8,433 crore ($1.15 billion) last month by selling a 2.75% stake in the telco to multiple global investors.

      A combination of reduced AGR dues and easier repayment terms on the back of recent tariff hikes, brokerage CLSA said, could send growth revival signals and encourage VIL’s promoters to reassess their stance of ‘no equity infusion’ to bolster the struggling telco’s financial position for competing more effectively with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm.

      Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal, in a note to customers, said that the next phase of the journey has begun as the world slowly starts to open up.

      Within a week of the announcement of lockdown from March 25, telcos had extended the prepaid validity of their low-income subscribers till April 17 and further to May 3 on subsequent announcement of lockdown extension. Airtel and Vodafone Idea also credited Rs 10 talk time credit to such users whereas Jio gave 100 minutes of free talk time and 100 text messages to all its users.

      In a counter affidavit to a petition filed by Paytm in the Delhi HC , Jio said mobile phone companies cannot be held liable for “unlawful activity” occurring over calls and messages as per the telecom regulator’s Telecom Commercial Communication Customer Preference Regulation (TCCCPR), 2018, aimed at checking pesky calls and messages.

      Credit Suisse estimated that without access to incremental debt funding, Vodafone Idea could at best pay Rs 5,000 crore of incremental dues. The telco owes over Rs 58,000 crore in licence fees, spectrum usage charges, interest and penalties, of which it has paid almost Rs 7,000 crore.

      The Supreme Court had said that private telecom companies including Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea must come out with a "reasonable payment plan" and make some payment to "show their bonafide".

      With Monday's payments, total amount paid by Vodafone Idea to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will be about Rs 6800 crore, which will cover for its self assessed priciple portion of its dues.

      TRAI had said that despite the higher charge on SMS, the complaints of UCC were on a rise and thus the regime for charging for SMSes should be brought under forbearance. In 2018, TRAI had mandated telcos to adopt distributed ledger technology (DLT) with ‘permissioned and private DLT networks’ where only identified and registered users can participate.

      Huawei is working with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea to ensure the smooth running of telecom networks in India, the company said in a statement to ET.

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