Indian mobile network operator Aircel has announced that it aims to inaugurate third generation services in the first quarter of 2010, according to India’s Economic Times. Further, the cellco has revealed that it expects to spend around USD500 million on introducing the new services in the first year that they are available, with a total of just over USD1 billion expected to be spent on both Aircel’s 2G and 3G networks combined in that period; the operator has previously said it will spend around USD5 billion on its infrastructure in the next three to five years. Aircel is hoping to have selected a vendor by the end of next week, and it has said that under its rollout programme it will launch in the top ten cities of each circle it has acquired a 3G concession, expanding in each region thereafter. Aircel bagged 3G licences for 13 circles in the government’s auction that ended in May 2010: Delhi, Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh (West) and Uttar Pradesh (East).
Alongside the unveiling of its launch date, Aircel has also detailed its subscriber targets, saying that it is aiming for a total subscriber base of 75 million by end-2011, 10% of which (7.5 million) it hopes will have taken up 3G services by that date.
In separate but related news, Telecom Yatra reports that Aircel has said that it will make a final decision on the technology it will use for wireless broadband services next month. Having acquired broadband wireless access (BWA) licences for eight regions – Andhra Pradsh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar, Oriassa, Assam, North East and Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) – in June 2010, the operator has yet to settle on either Long Term Evolution (LTE) or WiMAX.