The Vodafone Idea group has written to the Department of Telecommunications seeking permission to defer the payment of quarterly licence fees (LF) and spectrum usage charges (SUC) for the second, third and fourth quarters of this fiscal year, amounting to about Rs 6,000 crore.
The debt-ridden telco has asked the department if it could pay all these dues, including interest, in April-May 2022, according to an Economic Times report. The group has said that it will pay penalties if the department chooses to impose a fine for deferring payment, a person aware of the development told ET.
The telecom department has not yet responded to the request, the report added.
Vodafone Idea's average quarterly charge of LF and SUC amounts to about Rs 2,000 crore. The company was able to pay its licence fee for the April-June period.
The request has stunned market observers as they didn't expect that the company would ask for more relief when the Centre has already announced a four-year moratorium on adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and spectrum payments. The moratorium was crucial for the loss-making telco as it would help the group save up to Rs 1 lakh crore cumulatively over four years.
The telco is also struggling to raise funds. Despite negotiating with potential lenders for over a year, Vodafone Idea was unable to raise Rs 25,000 crore, the amount it had planned. According to media reports, the group is still in talks with investors to raise funds.
The group also needs to invest in infrastructure and expand its 4G network to compete with rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.
The cash-strapped telco — which has a debt burden of Rs 1.9 lakh crore — is expected to release its second-quarter results later today.