The government has received a net payment of R1,706.92 crore from telecom companies which won 2G spectrum in the recently concluded auction. This is under a fifth of the total amount of R9,407.64 crore that the winners owed it.
The amount is lower because the government had allowed the auction winners to opt for the staggered payment model under which they had to pay upfront just 33% of the total price, while paying the balance in 10 equal installments after a moratorium of two years.
Secondly, it also allowed telecom operators whose licences were cancelled on account of the Supreme Court judgment to offset from their current payment the amount they had already paid for the cancelled licences.
However, Norwegian telecom operator Telenor's Indian subsidiary, Telewings, was unable to avail the ‘payment offset’ facility, as it was considered a separate entity from Unitech Wireless, whose all 22 licences were cancelled by the SC. Telenor had bought into the company and, two months ago, it transferred its assets into the newly formed company Telewings.
So, while Telewings Communications paid R1,326.03 crore out of R4,018.28 crore it needed to pay, Vodafone paid R372.22 crore out of the required R1,127.94 crore. Bharti Airtel paid the entire amount of R8.67 crore. Videocon and Idea Cellular needed to pay R733.08 crore and R670.33 crore, respectively, but they adjusted their payments against the licence fee they had paid for permits that were cancelled by the SC in February.