Private telecom operators Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel have paid the Telecom Department over Rs 4,500 crore in spectrum dues in the last three to four days, according to sources.
Sources said that the payments came in before the due date. The sparring telcos — some of which are reeling under acute financial stress and are seeking immediate relief measures — have made the payment towards deferred spectrum liability (or instalment payment for radiowaves bought in past auctions) which fell due on October 21.
While Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has paid Rs 1,133 crore to the Department of Telecom, Vodafone Idea has made Rs 2,421 crore payment towards spectrum dues. Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel has paid Rs 977 crore. Taken together, these three players have paid over Rs 4,531 crore towards spectrum dues late last week.
Emails sent to Reliance Jio and Airtel went unanswered, while a Vodafone Idea spokesperson said that the company does not comment on matters that are business as usual.
The government, in March last year, enhanced the number of annual instalments for spectrum payment from 10 to 16 years to provide a breather to the debt-laden telecom sector.