Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has decided to postpone the Spectrum sale as the telco giants such as Vodafone Idea, Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices are facing massive financial stress because of AGR dues. DoT is planning to reschedule their Spectrum Sale before July-September quarter. As per the sources of ET, the department is analysing the self-assessed dues submitted by telcos as their AGR estimates are significantly lower than the original estimates done by DoT. As per DoT, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have to pay Rs 53,000 crore and Rs 35,000 crore respectively towards AGR dues. However, Vodafone Idea has self-estimated their AGR dues worth Rs 23,000. Similarly, Bharti Airtel has self-assessed their dues and noted that its self-assessed AGR dues are not exceeding Rs 18,000 crore.
Government Might Not Generate Enough Profits from Spectrum Sale
As per market specialists, the Government might not be able to generate more than Rs 40,000 crore as the telecom operators are still occupied with massive AGR dues. Vodafone Idea has also marked that they will be forced to shut down operations if the Government gives no relief. However, analysts marked that Government might not be able to hold back spectrum sale for long as some of the 4G airwaves will expire and telecom operators will have to repurchase airwaves in order to offer services. Currently, Government is planning to sale out 8303.05 MHz of 4G and 5G spectrum which will generate approximately Rs 5.23 Lakh crore only if all of the airwaves are sold out at the base price.
5G Spectrum Pricing Criticised by Telecom Operators
The 5G pricing offered by the Government is being criticised by telecom operators. Vodafone Idea which is worst hit by AGR dues might participate in a limited manner in the spectrum auction. Whereas, Bharti Airtel is planning to skip the 5G Spectrum sale as prices are unrealistic and high. Reliance Jio is the only telecom operator who is planning to buy some of the 5G airwaves. Also, the only profitable telco in India is planning to buy back Reliance Communications efficient 800 MHz Spectrum, which is expected to expire by August 2021 quarter.