Indian mobile operator Idea Cellular has announced plans to invest USD259.6 million in the year to March 2005, to stave off the threat of competition from larger rivals Reliance, Bharti and Hutchison-Essar. Idea Cellular, the country’s fifth largest wireless player, added that its investment programme may be increased further once it receives the go-ahead to launch its initial public offering (IPO). AT&T Wireless is exiting the venture and the IPO can only take place once a buyer for the 33% stake has been found. Until then Idea Cellular is working hard to shore up its position in the face of stiffening competition from the sector’s market leaders. GSM operators Bharti and Hutchison-Essar have announced comprehensive expansion projects: Bharti is spending around USD750 million in the year to March 2005, while Hutchison-Essar hopes to raise USD300 million from the sale of shares equivalent to 10% of the company’s equity, to fund its nationwide expansion.