Vodafone India said that it will launch its 4G services by end of the calendar year 2015. Important data markets including Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Kochi will be part of the first wave of the roll-out.
Vodafone India had successfully acquired additional 4G (LTE) spectrum in 5 circles viz. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Kerala and Karnataka in February 2014 auctions. These circles together contribute close to 50% of the total data revenues for Vodafone India.
This will pit it against Bharti Airtel, which has already launched 4G is about 10-12 circles, and Reliance Jio, which will launch 4G across India in December as well.
Idea Cellular is expected to launch 4G in around 3 key circles in the first three months of 2016.
The announcement notwithstanding, Vodafone India will rank fourth or even fifth in India in terms of 4G network reach. Smaller competitors like Idea Cellular and Reliance Communications are expected to have bigger networks than Vodafone once they finishing rolling out by around March 2017.
Vodafone India also said that it would will also roll out its own 3G networks in 7 circles – Assam, North East, UP West, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala and Odisha, to expand its overall 3G footprint to 16 circles across the country. The timeline for this was not given.
“Testing of 4G services has commenced successfully. Vodafone India has partnered with leading global technology infrastructure service providers for the network roll-out. With some of the latest technological developments on the anvil; Vodafone is building a robust and resilient network architecture with a strong backhaul to support the volumes and need for speed from customers,” the company said.
In FY14-15, Vodafone India had rolled out a record number of over 23,000 sites taking its overall network footprint to more than 131,000 sites.
Over the last few months, Vodafone India has taken several steps to modernize its radio network and switching systems. Charging platforms have also been upgraded to facilitate a wider bouquet of products and services, the company said.
“Major investments have been made in high capacity Fibre/backhaul to significantly increase the internet connectivity to the rest of the world. Vodafone India remains committed towards making significant investments in network expansion and for enhancing overall customer experience,” the company said.
Globally, Vodafone has launched 4G in 18 countries. There are over 20 million 4G customers across the Group and the company offers a mixture of music, sport and TV content to increase adoption and usage.
“Given the expertise and experience of launching in so many global markets, Vodafone understands the needs of the 4G customer and is well positioned to launch 4G pan India at an appropriate time.”