Aircel to invest Rs 7,500 crore for 3G and LTE networks


By
Telecom Lead Team:

Aircel, in which Malaysia-based Maxis Communications holds 74 per cent stake,
will be investing Rs 7,500 crore to expand its network in 3G telephony and
wireless broadband (BWA) segments.


“We
have invested about Rs 45,000 crore in the company. We are not a fly-by-night
operator. It is a serious investment and we want to be a serious player here.
We’ll make a fresh investment of Rs 7,500 crore, a mix of debt and
equity,” said Maxis Communications chief executive officer and Aircel
director Sandip Das, in an interview with Business Standard.


The company,
which is the fifth largest Indian telecom operator, has 50 million subscribers.
Partly due to the 2G taint, there were reports that Aircel was looking for
buyers.


The company
recently restructured itself into two divisions, operations-led OpCo and
network-led NetCo, with plans to spin them off into separate companies once the
contours of the in-the-works New Telecom Policy would become clear.


“We
have built a structure where in future the sales, distribution and
customer-facing areas will be separated and we took this call six months back
as we are moving towards a phase of network-sharing. Our plan is clear: Build a
nationwide 2G network and have a strong data infrastructure. Aircel’s 3G
network is the most modern currently, it is HSPA+ and then, we are banking on
BWA,” Das said.


Under the
new structure, the company will share its network with other telecom players,
creating an additional revenue stream.


Aircel has
spent close to Rs 10,000 crore on 3G alone, besides spending about Rs 3,500
crore in acquiring BWA spectrum.


Currently,
the company has over one million 3G subscribers in 13 circles and expects the
number to increase rapidly. In BWA, the company is hoping the whole ecosystem
would be ready within a year, which will allow it to go ahead with the launch
of LTE services in eight circles where it holds spectrum.


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