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The Silicon Review Asia

Apex court delivers another blow to telecom operators

Apex court delivers another blow to telecom operators

The Supreme Court in its observation of a plea of relief filed by the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has said that it saw no merit in letting telecom companies drag their payment dues over a period of 20 years. Relief for the companies such as waiver of penalties and interest on unpaid sums were also rejected by the Supreme Court.

Industry representatives have met with government officials over the past few months, which led to the DoT’s plea. In the recent past, telecom operators had received a huge bill as part of a verdict on a long-running dispute they had with the center. A total of nearly INR 1.7 trillion had to be given by the companies. Big names such as Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea had shown signs of a heavy blow, with Vodafone Idea’s very survival in doubt. The recent tariff war given birth by the entry of Reliance Jio had made margins paper-thin for all companies looking to retain customers in the toughest of battles.

The government receives money from the telecom operators in the form of annual license fee and spectrum usage charges, under the current policy. But the definition of what exactly the companies needed to pay wasn’t defined sharply and hence let to the legal tussle between telecom operators and DoT in 2003.

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