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Telecom stock gains as govt willing to reconsider spectrum fee

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Shares of Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea rose 3.26 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively, after the government prepared to reconsider the Rs 40,000 crore one-time spectrum fee (OTSC) imposed on telecom companies. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has sought three weeks’ time from the Supreme Court to review its decision to penalize telecom companies – Airtel and Vodafone Idea – for delay in paying one-time spectrum charges.

Lump-sum spectrum charges are charges that operators have to pay for keeping radio waves over a specified limit. Bharti Airtel has OTSC dues of Rs 8,414 crore and Vodafone Idea has accumulated OTSC dues of Rs 4,389.8 crore as at the end of March 2021.

The spectrum fee issue dates back to 2012, when the Supreme Court canceled 122 telecom permits and declared airwaves to be distributed through auctions as public goods in the wake of the 2G scam.

“The Central Government is inclined to review or reconsider its decision to proceed with the present proceedings of the appeal,” the Center said in an affidavit filed in the apex court. The DoT told the Supreme Court that the Rs 40,000 crore OTSC would add to the financial burden of the telecom companies. Most of the telecom service providers have suffered huge losses and the telecom sector is under stress despite the government’s relief measures.

As of 2:23 pm, Vodafone Idea stock was trading 2.63 per cent higher at Rs 11.73 and Bharti Airtel was trading 2.66 per cent higher at Rs 699.20, both the stocks outperforming the Sensex which was up 0.54 per cent.

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