Debt-ridden telecom operators are likely to opt for three-month moratorium to avoid cash crunch during the lockdown, industry body COAI said on Saturday.
The telecom operators have spoken in favour of raising mobile call and internet rates at the earliest, however, they will keep the prices stable during the lockdown period, COAI DG Rajan S. Mathews told PTI.
“There is debt of around ₹1.6-2 lakh crore that telecom operators owe to Indian banks. They will opt for three-month moratorium in loan repayment to help them maintain cash flow. It is a relief for them,” Mr. Mathews said.
The RBI on Friday allowed banks to put on hold EMI payments on all term loans for three months, slashed the cost of fresh borrowing by cutting policy interest rate by steepest in more than 11 years and infused a massive Rs 3.74 lakh crore liquidity as it joined the efforts of the government to counter the economic fallout of coronavirus pandemic.
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) also allayed fear of hike in tariff by the telecom operators. “Telecom companies understand market situation. They will keep tariff stable for now,” Mr. Mathews said. Telecom operators have been asking for fixing minimum tariff for call and data rates. Vodafone Idea has suggested that the minimum rates should be fixed starting April 1, 2020.
Mobile subscribers get access to 4G data at a price as low as Rs 3.5 per GB but if the floor price is fixed as demanded by telecom operators, mobile internet prices will rise 5-10 times from the current level.
Debt-ridden Vodafone Idea has proposed that the minimum price of data should be fixed at Rs 35 per GB, Bharti Airtel has proposed minimum price of Rs 30 per GB for low data users and Reliance Jio wants it to be hiked gradually to Rs 20 per GB.