Indian cellco Idea Cellular has reportedly completed its rollout in the north of the country, having commenced commercial services in the circle of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). According to Telecom Tiger, Idea will initially have coverage in the region of Jammu City, Bari Brahmana, Bishnah, Katra, Udhampur and the Jammu-Katra Highway, while Srinagar, Lakhanpur, Badgam, Anantnag, Mattan, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Ganderbal, Patan and Sumbal are expected to be covered before the end of 2009. At launch Idea had installed more than 300 base stations across 14 districts, covering a total of 62 population centres. Commenting on the launch, Ambrish Jain, Idea’s director of operations, said: ‘Our network and offerings in J&K have been designed keeping in mind the mobile communication needs of the people of this state. Idea subscribers in the state will experience superior connectivity, whisper-clear audio quality and zero call congestion on our network. Idea will aim to drive penetration in the market enabling larger number of people in the state to gain access to mobile telephony services.’
Idea expects to attain pan-India coverage by March 2010, and only has to roll out services in Calcutta, West Bengal, Assam and the North East circles in order to achieve this target.
In separate but related news, according to the Economic Times, pre-paid mobile services in the J&K circle may be temporarily banned due to security concerns. The revelation comes following an announcement from the Union Minister of Home Affairs, Palaniappan Chidambaram. It is understood that consideration is being given to a ban after several incidents were reported by security forces in which militants used pre-paid mobiles purchased under fictitious names for communicating with one another. The government has been pressing users in the region to switch to post-paid services, but Chidambaram noted: ‘We may have to ban pre-paid mobile services in Kashmir Valley for a while if our efforts [at persuasion] do not succeed’.