Vodafone India will also launch its own 3G networks in seven circles such as Assam, North East, UP West, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Kerala and Odisha. With this, Vodafone’s own 3G footprint will be expanded to 16 circles across the country.
The telecom operator has started testing of 4G services. Vodafone did not share details about the telecom network partners.
The launch will enable Vodafone to take on rival Bharti Airtel. Airtel 4G reached more than 300 telecom markets in India. Airtel is offering 4G on smartphones, dongles, etc. The strategy of Bharti Airtel is to offer 4G at 3G prices in order to attract customers for the high-end broadband services. Airtel is yet to announce the number of 4G subscribers.
Reliance Jio Infocomm, the telecom venture promoted by businessman Mukesh Ambani, is expected to launch 4G by the end of 2015 with commercial launch slated for middle of 2016.
Sensing the 4G LTE launch by Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Vodafone, the total LTE device shipments in the country doubled to 5.7 million units during April-June 2015, with 4G smartphones contributing 97 percent in terms of units.
“Total 4G device shipments in the country should cross 11 million units per quarter by the end of this calendar year,” said Faisal Kawoosa, lead analyst, CMR Telecoms Practice.
ABI Research recently said that 4G data traffic has started to dominate the total traffic consumption in 2015. The telecom analysis report said that the annual global 4G data usage in 2020 will exceed 224.7 Exabytes, 79 percent of the total data traffic.
“To propel data traffic usage and maintain sustainable profitability, mobile operators are sparing no effort to migrate customers to 4G networks through new favorable tariff plans, and convenient and quick update services,” said Marina Lu, research analyst at ABI Research.
Vodafone 4G strategies
Globally, Vodafone has launched 4G in 18 countries. There are over 20 million 4G customers across the group and its 4G propositions are enhanced with a mixture of music, sport and TV content to increase adoption and usage. However, the launch was delayed in India due to lack of adequate spectrum and a strong business model.
During February 2014 auctions, Vodafone India acquired additional 4G LTE spectrum in 5 circles viz. Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Kerala and Karnataka. These circles together contribute close to 50 percent of the total data revenues for Vodafone India.
Vodafone India added more than 23,000 telecom sites during fiscal 2014-15. The number of telecom sites of Vodafone stands at more than 131,000 sites.
Over the last few months, Vodafone India has modernized its radio network and switching systems. The company also upgraded its charging platforms. Vodafone India also invested in high capacity fiber / backhaul to significantly increase the internet connectivity.
“Vodafone India remains committed towards making significant investments in network expansion and for enhancing overall customer experience,” said Vodafone in a statement.