Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) has stated that it is in advanced discussions with telecom gear vendors for its 5G rollout strategy and will comply with the government’s 5G minimum rollout obligations. However, the telco will not launch its 5G network until it has funding in place, and will launch the services in select geographies.
Speaking during the recent earnings call, Akshaya Moondra, chief executive officer, Vi, informed that the company’s focus remains on converting existing 3G sites to 4G. Vi has closed 3,000 3G sites and opened 2,000 4G sites during the latest quarter. He added that the company is now focused on investments across business segments, plans for which had been stalled by a lack of liquidity earlier. As a result, any new debt undertaken by the company through loans from banks will be focused on investments. He stressed that any existing debt will not be deferred and will be paid until maturity. Regarding the firm’s fundraising exercise, he said that Vi is in talks with banks and the discussions are progressing. The requirement of the banks was the government conversion. The telco had significant discussions with its consortium of bankers over the past few months. With the government conversion now having happened, those discussions can progress further.
Further, Moondra advocated for tariff hikes and said that the current level of tariffs would not enable anybody to recover the cost. Thus, the current structure of pricing needs to evolve over a period of time in some form. He said that a tariff hike is required more for the unlimited plan as the users must pay more for using more. In the first round of hikes in two circles – Odisha and Haryana – the company has seen a positive trend of subscriber growth.
Additionally, on payment to vendors, Moondra said the that company’s board approved the issuance of optionally convertible debentures amounting to Rs 16 billion to American Tower Corporation. The telco is in discussion with the government for longer payment tenure for its outstanding dues from licence fees for the third quarter of fiscal year 2023. He informed that the company has made a partial payment. It has engaged with the Department of Telecommunications and proposed a plan to allow the firm slightly delayed payment.