SC decision on telecom revenue definition to weaken sector viability: Bharti Airtel

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Thursday (October 24) said the Supreme Court verdict on adjusted gross revenue will weaken viability of telecom sector, and the government must review its impact and find ways to mitigate financial burden on the already stressed industry.

The Supreme Court judgement, allowing the centre’s plea to recover AGR (revenue earned from sale of telecom services) of about ₹92,000 crore from telecom service providers, will add to the woes of financially distressed telecom operator.

Expressing disappointment on the verdict, Bharti Airtel said, “The TSP’s have invested billions of dollars in developing the telecom sector and providing world-class services to consumers. This decision has come at a time when the sector is facing severe financial stress and may further weaken the viability of the sector as a whole.”

The company said of the 15 old operators impacted by the order, only two private sector operators remain in service today. There has been an industry dispute since 1999-2000 between licensees and the licensor i.e., the Department of Telecommunications on the scope of the definition of AGR. The liability on Bharti Airtel alone is estimated to be over ₹21,000 crore. “The government must review the impact of this decision and find suitable ways to mitigate the financial burden on the already stressed industry,” Airtel said.