Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal has told Vodafone Idea (Vi) to settle its dues with Indus Tower, noting that it will not provide services to the struggling telco until it does.

Mittal made the comments to the Economic Times, warning that Vi won't be able to use Indus' 5G towers unless the payment was made.

Vodafone Idea
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Airtel is Indus' largest shareholder, with a stake of 48.7 percent. It's estimated that Vi contributes around 40 percent of Indus' total revenue.

The telco is reported to owe Indus just shy of ₹10,000 crore ($1.2 billion).

"They (Vodafone Idea) will not get new services until they pay money. They have a lot of old dues which they need to pay up. They have raised money, now they should be able to pay up," said Mittal to the publication.

"They are making routine payments after the Indus board took a decision to shut the sites if the money does not come...otherwise they were only paying 80 percent and the rest 20 percent was getting accumulated."

Vi recently held a $2.16 billion follow-on Public Offering (FPO) in India through a sale of new shares.

It said at the time that the funds will be used to expand its 4G network and launch its 5G network. The telco has fallen behind in the country's 5G race, with Airtel and Jio dominating the market.

Vi's chief executive Akshaya Moondra told ET the telco would not use the proceeds of its FPO to clear dues of any promoter or promoter group entity.

Indus previously warned the telco to pay its dues in 2022.

At the time, the telco said that if it was not paid then Vi would potentially lose access to usage of its cell towers.

Vi is yet to launch 5G, although Moondra said during an earnings call in January that it expects to launch the service within six to seven months.