The telecom operators have written to the department of telecommunications (DoT) seeking extension to provide bank guarantees (BGs) as banks are working with limited resources these days due to the rapid spread of coronavirus. Sources said industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to the DoT on March 20 seeking relaxation in providing BGs.
Operators have to renew their BGs, primarily for deferred spectrum payments, and since the government has announced a two-year moratorium for spectrum payments, the incremental amount of many BGs need to be changed, said people in the know. The revised BGs were to be submitted by March 23 but due to curtailed operations of banks, operators have sought more time to do so.
A query sent to telecom secretary Anshu Prakash on whether the extension has been granted remained unanswered.
Besides, the telcos have sought support for various other things due to the ongoing crisis. The COAI has urged the DoT to issue directions to state governments that telecom be treated under essential services so that employees can work and commute amid lockdowns.
The industry body said all audits, including customer acquisition forms (CAF), EMF, licence and security to be cancelled till stabilisation of the situation. Also, timelines for minimum roll-out obligations be extended for at least six months, COAI said, adding states should be instructed to give expedite permission for putting up towers to strengthen network and not to seal towers for frivolous reasons.
COAI has also requested the DoT that no disconnection of points of interconnect by BSNL/MTNL should be allowed in the period. The telcos have some long-standing issues with the state-run firms and sometimes these firms resort to disconnection and invocation of BGs.