Vodafone says second phase of 4G rollout will cover 4 new circles


Mumbai: Vodafone India Ltd, the country’s second largest telecom service provider, Wednesday said its fourth generation (4G) services will reach a total of 1,000 towns across nine telecom circles by the end of the year. The company also plans to launch 4G in Gujarat, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh (East) and West Bengal over the next few months.

Vodafone India had completed commercial rollout of 4G services in Mumbai in February. Delhi, Kolkata, Karnataka and Kerala are the other four circles where it has already launched 4G services.

With the rollout of the second phase, Vodafone said 4G services would be available across 1,000 towns this year.

“Our 4G services will be available across 1000 towns this year. We have completed the launch of the first phase and we will be launching our second phase very shortly. In our second phase we plan to cover four circles of Gujarat, Haryana, UP (East) and West Bengal,” Sunil Sood, managing director and chief executive officer of Vodafone India, told reporters.

After the launch of its second phase, the company would be covering nine circles which together contribute about 70% of its total data revenue in the country.

Vodafone was the third major telecom company to start 4G services in the country with its rollout in Kozhikode on 6 January. In December, the company announced its plan to roll out services in the five circles of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Karnataka and Kerala. The telco will continue to expand its services in these circles.

“Since last year, we have been working on a war footing on this (providing 4G services). We have separate teams working to provide a fantastic experience that includes getting sites, getting fibre and solving whatever issues there are,” Sood said.

The company has invested Rs.1,000 crore in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR) to upgrade its network. It has added 3,185 sites last year in the region, including in many of government buildings in the capital. In Mumbai, it has also made an investment of Rs.1,261 crore to enhance its network and added around 5000 sites last year, particularly for its 4G services.

Welcoming the Supreme Court’s judgement to strike down telecom regulator’s directive to impose penalty for call drops on telecom operators, Sood said its call drop rates have reduced by 40% from what it was around 6-7 months back. “In addition, the number of network complaints has also been the lowest, dropping by about 35%,” he said.

Sood also said the company has plans to acquire spectrum in the near future. “We are yet to sort out whether we will acquire through trading route, sharing route or auction route but we do have plans to increase our spectrum in order to enhance our portfolio,” he said.

Other telecom service providers which have launched 4G services in the country include Bharti Airtel Ltd and Idea Cellular.

Idea cellular rolled out its 4G technology-based services in eight circles, the last being Orissa, on 4 February. Idea will launch the service in Maharashtra and northeast India by March, completing the targeted 10 circles in the current fiscal.

Bharti Airtel Ltd, India’s largest telco, has rolled out 4G services in 15 circles so far.