Idea launches 4G in all southern states
The fight for India’s wireless data market has begun in earnest, ahead of the launch of Reliance Jio. Idea Cellular, third largest telecom operator in terms of subscribers, announced on Wednesday the launch of fourth generation (4G) services in all four telecom service areas of South India on Wednesday.
In the first phase, this will be available across 75 towns in the five states there. These will be expanded to all southern metros and large towns — including Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Mangaluru and Coimbatore — by March 2016.
Himanshu Kapania, managing director of Idea, said:“Worldwide, 4G technology is gaining widespread acceptance, with global subscriptions crossing one billion. The launch of (our) LTE (long-term evolution, normally termed 4G or 4G LTE) services will further expand Idea’s wireless broadband network and propel the brand to an even higher growth trajectory, consolidating its market position.”
With Reliance Jio delaying its launch, incumbents Idea and Vodafone are moving to capture markets. Idea is aiming to garner subscribers from other networks and attract new customers, too. “Definitely, an early-mover advantage will be there,” said Sashi Shankar, its chief marketing officer. He wouldn’t say how many subscribers it aimed to achieve by becoming the first 4G operator in smaller towns.
In the second phase, Idea plans to launch 4G LTE services across 750 towns. Between January and March, Idea will roll out its 4G services in other key markets like Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra & Goa, Punjab, Haryana, North-East and Odisha, in a phased manner. By June 2016, Idea’s 4G footprint will cover 750 cities across 10 telecom circles (the country is divided into 22).
After its spectrum trading deal with Videocon gets approval from the government, Idea will be able to provide 4G in two more circles — Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh (East). Idea currently holds 1800 MHz of 4G spectrum in 10 telecom circles which cover half the market but a little over 60 per cent of Idea’s gross revenue. After completion of this transaction, 4G services will be extended to 12 service areas, covering 75 per cent of Idea’s revenue base in the country.
Idea has a similar strategy to popularise its services such as free 4G SIM, offering 4G at 3G rates and providing mobile internet content. It is offering music and movie content in association with Hungama and Eros Now, respectively. It also announced launching of a gaming platform called Idea Games Club from February 2016, primarily to target the younger generation.
Idea’s strategy is similar to Airtel’s on 4G. Idea is offering free SIM upgrades to customers. It has also partnered with handset manufacturers and e-retailers for data plans and SIM cards with handsets sold online.
Idea has a deal with Snapdeal and other device manufactures for bundled data offers. The company is offering attractive subscription plans for digital content, including a wide range of the latest music, movies and games. Unlimited voice minutes are being bundled with the data service. Its unlimited talktime offers start from Rs 999 a month for three GB data, for postpaid users. At the top end, it is offering unlimited national voice calls, along with 15 GB data at Rs 2,999 a month. For 15 GB, 4G data of Airtel, consumers need pay Rs 2,999 a month; Vodafone 4G users have to pay Rs 2,499 a month for 20 GB data.
For voice call operations, the company said its smart return feature would allow users to quickly go to a 2G or 3G network and after the call, the network mode will automatically upgrade to 4G network. “Though Idea is capable to offer VoLTE (Voice over LTE) service, we know many 4G phones in India do not have the facility to conduct a VoLTE call. Hence, we have introduced the ‘Smart Return’ feature,” said Kapania.
OFFERINGS WITH HIGHER SPEED
- 4G service launched in Kochi, Hosur, Kadapa, Malappuram, Madurai, Mysuru, Rajahmundry, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli, Tiruppur, Vijayawada & Visakhapatnam, while Belgaum, Kozhikode, Cuddalore, Chitradurga, Guntur, Kakinada, Kancheepuram & Trichur will follow by Dec 31
- Complimentary 4G SIM card upgrade available at showrooms & retail outlets across towns
- 4G data rates at par with existing 3G plans. Offers ‘4G Trial Packs’ starting as low as Rs 29. Offers unlimited voice minutes on data packs starting Rs 999 per month
- Prepaid & postpaid customers buying new 4G smartphones before end-March offered special double data benefit on all 1 GB & above packs. The 100% extra 4G promotional data can only be utilised on Idea’s latest 4G LTE network