Supreme Court's order on Rs 1.47 lakh crore worth of AGR dues has triggered rumours about the alleged impending shutdown of two of India's largest telecom companies Vodafone Idea and Airtel. In fact, WhatsApp forwards saying subscribers of these two telcos should change their service provider have been doing the rounds.
So should subscribers port out?
Yes, both Airtel and Vodafone Idea face huge monetary burden due to AGR. But, both have said they will pay the dues. Moreover, Airtel paid Rs 10,000 crore on Monday.
Airtel is definitely not shutting down. The telecom operator's spokesperson confirmed to BusinessToday.In that, it will pay the balance amount after completing the exercise of calculating (AGR) dues across 22 circles which will take at least a week to ten days. The company added that it shall make the payment before the next date of Supreme Court's (SC) hearing which is on March 17.
Bharti Airtel's overall AGR dues as assessed by the department of telecommunications (DoT) stand at Rs 35,586 crore including licence fee and spectrum usage charge.
Vodafone Idea dues to Idea stand at a whopping Rs 53,000 crore.
Vodafone Idea's chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla had said in December last year that the company would not put good money after bad and shut shop if the government did not give relief to the company. He echoed Vodafone Global CEO Nick Read who had said Vodafone Idea would head for liquidation if the government did not offer relief to the telcos.
However, now Vodafone Idea has said it will clear its AGR dues. The telco said on Monday that it can immediately shell out Rs 2,500 crore and pay another Rs 1,000 crore by February 21.
The telco appealed to the apex court that the department of telecommunication (DoT) should not take any forcible action and call forth any bank guarantees as it would further hinder its operations. However, the SC did not grant Vodafone Idea any relief.