Bharti Airtel on Wednesday paid Rs 8,312.4 crore to the department of telecommunications (DoT) towards spectrum dues acquired in the recently concluded 5G auctions. With this payment, the company has paid four years of 2022 spectrum dues upfront. The telecom major had an option to pay Rs 3,848.88 crore upfront and the rest in 19 annual instalments.
While Bharti paid four years’ instalments in one go, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea have paid their first year due only. Accordingly, Jio made a payment of Rs 7,864 crore and Vodafone Idea of Rs 1,680 crore.
This year the government had given the option to pay their spectrum dues in equal instalments over 20 years. However, with Bharti’s four years instalment payment, the government will get Rs 17,856 crore as first year payment in total as against the earlier budgeted Rs 13,365 crore if Bharti had paid only the first year’s due.
Bharti said that it believes that the upfront payment, coupled with the moratorium on spectrum dues and adjusted gross revenue (AGR) related payments for four years, will free up future cash flows and allow it to dedicate resources to single-mindedly concentrate on the 5G rollout. As is known, in the recently concluded auctions, Bharti Airtel acquired 19,867 Mhz for Rs 43,039.63 crore.
“This upfront payment of four years allows us to drive 5G rollout in a concerted manner given our operating free cash flow. Airtel also has access to Rs 15,740.5 crore in capital from the rights issue, which is yet to be called. With the ideal spectrum bank, best technology and adequate free cash flow, we are excited to bring to the country a world-class 5G experience,” said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO of Bharti Airtel in a statement.
Over the last year, Bharti said it has also cleared Rs 24,333.7 crore of its deferred spectrum liabilities much ahead of scheduled maturities.