DoT refuses to recalculate Vi fee as Indus threatens to block services

DoT refuses to recalculate Vi fee as Indus threatens to block services

Vodafone Idea (Vi) has met with yet more financial woes after the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) dismissed its appeal relating to its outstanding licence fees for the fiscal years between 2015-16 and 2016-17.

As reported by The Economic Times, Vi claims that the DoT’s calculations of its fees for these years contain “various errors which need to be corrected.” As it stands, Vi owes INR17.49 billion for 2015-16 and INR15.24 billion for 2016-2017, factoring in interest fees up to the end of March 2023. The operator notes that the DoT has failed to act on its previous requests that the issue be resolved.

Debt-laden Vi has been mired in financial troubles as it seeks to pay down debts. Last month, the operator paid the annual instalment for its 5G spectrum to the DoT. The size of this payment was significant enough to fuel speculation that Vi had found an external source of funding, forcing the operator to state that it was not being acquired. Had Vi missed the payment deadline, it would have faced sanctions.

To alleviate some of its debt, Vi took advantage of a government debt-for-equity exchange allowing operators to convert specific fees and dues into equity shares. In February this year, the Indian state became Vi’s largest shareholder, taking over 33% of its shares.

However, Vi’s problems are far from over – this week, its infrastructure partner Indus Tower informed regulator TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) that it may have to restrict the operator’s services due to its failure to meet payment obligations. Indus claims that Vi had falsely informed TRAI that it owed INR9 billion to Indus in overdue payments, whereas the actual figure including interest is now closer to INR78.65 billion.

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