Vodafone Essar has launched third-generation services in the Uttar Pradesh (East) circle, India’s Business Standard reports, with the cellco’s new network initially available in Lucknow and Kanpur. Under the operator’s rollout plans it has said that Allahabad and Varanasi will be covered next month, while the region’s remaining towns will gain access to the 3G network in the coming months. As a launch promotion Vodafone has said that it will offer its subscribers in the region free access to its 3G services until 10 April, while it plans to unveil its final retail tariffs in the next few weeks. Commenting on the cellco’s presence in the region, Vodafone Essar’s chief operating officer for the UP East circle, Ravi Santhanam, noted: ‘We have the [most] EDGE enabled cell sites in the circle, numbering 8,200, and we only need to put up 3G antennae and some additional gadgets for 3G.’
Vodafone Essar is the last of the country’s top three mobile operators by subscribers to introduce 3G services, with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications (RCOM) having launched their own third-generation offerings in January 2011 and December 2010 respectively. Vodafone Essar meanwhile grabbed concessions to offer 3G services in nine circles for INR116.18 billion (USD2.55 billion) in May 2010, and last month said it aimed to roll out services in its licensed regions in a phased manner during March 2011. The operator had reportedly introduced commercial 3G services in Delhi and Chennai by the start of this month, but it has yet to formally announce launch dates for any other regions.