Vodafone sets sights on pan-India 3G

22 May 2013

UK-backed cellco Vodafone India is looking to extend its 3G footprint nationwide and is planning to purchase 3G spectrum in the eleven circles where it does not currently hold licences, the Economic Times reports, citing a senior Vodafone official. Managing director of Vodafone India, Marten Pieters was quoted as saying that the purchase price Vodafone will settle for the spectrum will be based on commercial negotiations and will depend on how desperate other cellcos are to sell their airwaves. The revelation follows the announcement that the cellco’s adjusted net profit for the year ended 31 March 2013 increased to GBP221 million (USD335.91 million) from GBP60 million twelve months earlier on the back of revenue and EBITDA growth. On the 3G front, revenues from data services for the year were up 6.3% year-on-year to GBP369 million, although the cellco registered a sudden jump in data earnings in its fiscal H2, to GBP201 million from GBP171 million in the year-ago period and GBP168 million in H1.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Vodafone was one of seven companies to win 3G spectrum in 2010, alongside Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications (RCOM), Aircel, Idea Cellular, Tata Teleservices (TTSL) and STel. No single operator currently holds pan-India spectrum, although until recently the providers have sold 3G services outside of their licensed areas via mutual roaming pacts. In April this year, however, the Supreme Court banned operators from signing up new subscribers outside of their licensed footprint but allowed providers to continue serving existing customers.