Vodafone Idea’s payment problems continue

It has been widely reported in the Indian press that Tata Communications Transformation Services (TCTS), a subsidiary of Indian digital ecosystem enabler Tata Communications, has issued a service contract  termination notice to operator Vodafone Idea (aka Vi) after the company did not pay TCTS on time.

Tata Communications is apparently in discussion about a disengagement transition plan with Vodafone Idea, though it has not named the operator specifically.

A notice to the stock exchange suggested that the carrying amount of trade receivables from the operator may have been Rs 221.19 crores (about US$26.6 million) in December 2023.

As news reports point out, TCTS handles maintenance work for Vodafone Idea’s fibre assets. However, Vodafone Idea has apparently offered an assurance that customer services will remain unaffected despite the termination of the service contract by TCTS. The work will now be brought in-house.

What may be more significant in this case is that this is a big vendor withdrawing its services to Vodafone Idea over non-payment, which does not seem to have happened to the operator before.

What this says about Vodafone Idea’s financial situation is unclear. News reports suggest that the operator is clearing its debt obligations to lenders and banks. However, some payments owed to vendors are apparently being delayed. 

We have already mentioned Vodafone Idea’s issues with Indus Towers (which led to threats to restrict service, though not their outright withdrawal). The operator also needs to pay other vendors such as American Tower Corp (ATC), Nokia and Ericsson. And, of course, it needs to find money for 5G rollout given the ground it has lost to competitors Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.