Idea Cellular gearing up for wireless broadband

Idea Cellular is offering wireless broadband services across all 22 circles of which 3G is at 15 circles whereas 4G is at 22 service areas. The 4G services are now available in more than 23,000 towns and villages covering 23% of population in these 22 service areas.

On January 30, 2017, Idea Cellular announced its arrival into the digital world with launch of 3 new exciting Mobile Apps – Idea Music Lounge, Idea Movie Club and Idea Game Spark – giving birth to a “Digital Idea”. The new suite of integrated digital apps provides best bouquet of services to the company’s 192 million plus customer base.

These apps focuses on music, movies, live TV and gaming and the company need to increase its category as well as quality of content. Within first 60 days of introduction of digital entertainment applications around 1.5 million customers enjoyed Idea’s digital content services including approximately 550,000 customers on Idea Music App, around 275,000 customers on Idea Movie Club App and around 500,000 customers on Idea Game Spark App. If the content is unique, Idea Cellular will get more hits for movie, music and video app.

On the spectrum front, Idea has a total spectrum holding of 891.2 MHz across spectrum bands of 900, 1800, 2100, 2300 and 2500 MHz. The total spectrum helps Idea Cellular to rollout wireless broadband which can carry 15-20 times of its current mobile data traffic so there is lot of scope for expansion.

The monetization of this front loaded large investment in spectrum and equipment is inevitable as Digital India mission gathers momentum.

During FY2016-17, in addition to Rs. 13,057 crore incurred for fresh spectrum procurement, the capital expenditure (including capital advances) incurred during the year was Rs. 7,765 crore and Rs. 7,841 crore at standalone and consolidated levels respectively. The capex investment needs to be increased by Idea by around 1.5 times so that the coverage and quality of wireless broadband services increases.

On the infrastructure front, Idea Cellular’s wireless broadband sites includes 3G and 4G technologies which have increased from 64,703 sites at end-March 2016 to 110,054 sites at end-March 2017. The company after launch of its 4G services on December 23, 2015 has added 26,209 4G sites across 9 service areas during FY2016-17, taking the total 4G site count to 40,852.

The company has also expanded its fibre backbone network by 29,100 km from 115,500 km as of end-March, 2016 to 144,600 Km as of end-March, 2017.  In terms of coverage, Idea provides wireless broadband coverage to more than 500 million Indian in 21 service areas vis-a-vis one billion Indians on 2G.

Having done the groundwork in FY2016-17, Idea Cellular in FY 2017-18 should now focus on increasing its 27 million broadband subscribers either by converting existing 2G subscribers to 2G or 3G services or through number portability by converting other operators subscribers to wireless broadband customers.


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