Idea Cellular, the Aditya Birla Group-led service provider is expecting to soon close the new 4G ICR arrangements with Vodafone India for an additional 4G coverage in nearly 5,000 new towns and neighboring villages for each telco, having already entered into an active Infrastructure sharing arrangement with Vodafone to avoid duplication of spends and make the best use of capital expenditure (capex).
"Both telcos have now started to enjoy expanded coverage from such shared sites," Idea said, adding that it is on course to introduce its own VoLTE – ‘Voice over LTE’ by early calendar year 2018.
The telco also said that it will deploy 2300 MHz or 2500 MHz spectrum band in many of its leadership markets during the current financial year, which will further boost Idea’s 4G capacity in these key markets. "As 4G adoption rate is ahead of initial company estimates primarily driven by affordable smartphones, expanding 4G coverage and world’s lowest ‘voice and mobile broadband tariffs’, almost all of Idea’s incremental network capital investments is allocated to 4G expansion (including fiber and capacity)," the telco said.
The 4G population under Idea's coverage has nearly tripled from 14.8% (~170 million) in the second quarter last year to 38.1% (~450 million), reflecting Idea’s aggressive intent to participate in emerging 4G consumer market.
Idea has also increased its fibre backbone network by more than 50,000 kms (100,400 km in Q2FY16 to 150,500 km in the second quarter to support the burgeoning demand of mobile broadband services.
On overall terms, Idea’s gross investment in fixed assets has now risen to over Rs 1222 million, a net addition of Rs. 486 billion (capex + spectrum) during the last 24 months. The capex spend for the current quarter was Rs. 19.7 billion.
Idea Cellular on Monday said that it has multiplied its broadband sites by 3.4 times in last two years and the overall broadband sites now stands at 133,685, higher than the unique 2G sites built over a span of last 21 years. Over the period of last two years, Idea has aggressively expanded its mobile broadband infrastructure and added 93,818 broadband (3G+4G)sites.
Idea’s wireless broadband network (3G+4G) population under coverage now exceeds 568 million Indians (46.9% of Indian population) across 22 service areas spread over 121,446 towns and villages.
As 4G adoption rate is ahead of initial company estimates primarily driven by affordable smartphones, expanding 4G coverage and world’s lowest ‘voice and mobile broadband tariffs’, almost all of Idea’s incremental network capital investments is allocated to 4G expansion (including fibre and capacity).