Idea Cellular has finally launched 3G services in the states of MP & Chhattisgarh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. It will extend the services to 200 towns by mid April 2011, and plans to cover 750 towns by mid 2011, and 4,000 towns by the end of FY12. Just like other telcos, Idea promises theoretical speeds of upto 21 Mbps on 3G handsets and higher on other capable devices.
Madhya Pradesh(MP & Chhattisgarh) is the second largest circle for Idea in terms of active subscribers which number at 10 million in Q4 2010 as well as in revenue. Idea is the largest operator in the circle in terms of revenue registering Rs 327.4 crore in Q4 10.
Source – MediaNama Charts
Idea had secured 3G spectrum in 11 circles – MP & Chattisgarh, HP, Maharashtra & Goa, Gujarat, Kerala, Haryana, UP East, UP West, AP, J&K and Punjab, which, the company says, contribute over 80% of it’s revenues. It says it is also finalizing long-term arrangements with select quality operators for service areas where the company does not have spectrum to provide 3G services. Worth noting at all operators that have launched 3G services have said that they’re finalizing long term arrangement with others, but no such arrangements have been announced yet. Maybe they’re just hoping that something will work out.
It will offer Video conferencing, Mobile TV and Video on Demand applications on its 3G network.
In the Madhya Pradesh circle, the default rate for 3G usage is 10p/10Kb (Rs10/MB), although if a user pays Rs 55 extra per month for a rate-cutter pack, his data usage will be charged at 1p/10Kb. Other data packs available in MP are as follows:
-Sachet Packs, only for Prepaid:
Rs 9 for 10 MB, Valid for 1 day
Rs 54 for 50 MB, Valid for 3 days
-Bundled Data Packs, valid for 30 days, for both Prepaid and Postpaid:
Rs 100 (Rs 105 for Prepaid) for 100 MB
Rs 200 (Rs 205 for Prepaid) for 250 MB
Rs 450 for 600 MB
Rs 650 for 1280 MB
Rs 755 for 2048 MB
Rs 1750 for 5120 MB
-Time Based Plans:
Rs 47 for 30 mins with 1 day validity
Rs 80 for 60 mins with 3 days validity
Rs 145 for 120 mins with 7 days validity
Compared to other operators, Idea’s 3G tariffs are cheaper. However, time based plans don’t make sense for Smart phone users who are always connected to the internet. Idea has been a late comer when it comes to the 3G launch and the pricing might be a calculated move to counter competition after adopting a wait and watch position. It remains to be seen if the pricing would be on the same lines in other circles and circles where it will tie-up with other operators to provide 3G services.
Idea Mall App Store
Idea has also launched an app store by the name of Idea Mall. The store is based on Ericsson’s eStore solution and currently offers 30,000 applications, mainly Java apps. It offers a try and buy model, where users have an option to pay the entire price and buy the app or pay a partial sum for using it for 15 days. MediaNama readers might recall that Idea had previously partnered with Spice digital to launch MobStore which was a hybrid between an apps and services. So now almost all operators have their own app stores. Wouldn’t enabling operator billing for handset app stores be a more sensible move?