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Idea Cellular: 2G to 3G mobile data usage shift depends on users upgrading to 3G handsets


Idea Cellular Managing Director Himanshu Kapania said during the company’s Q3-FY15 earnings conference call that converting existing 2G mobile data users to 3G usage will predominantly depend on consumers upgrading their devices to 3G. Kapania was responding to a question about Idea’s plans regarding shifting subscribers from 2G use to 3G use. Kapania also mentioned that the telco’s primary focus currently is to ensure that the around 118 million mobile data non-users upgrade to mobile data usage.

As of December 31, 2014, Idea has a total of 152 million subscribers, of which 34.2 million or 22.5% subscribers are active mobile internet users. Out of these 34.2 million users, 12.9 million or 37.7% are on 3G while 21.3 million or 62.3% are on 2G. Interestingly, 28.5 million Idea subscribers use a 3G enabled device, but only 12.9 million of them are 3G users.

Kapania also mentioned that “if the customers continue to hold their 2G device and the 2G device is available still at a price point of Rs 750 to 1,500, there is no reason for us not to be able to promote additional ARPU from a 2G voice customer and if he has got a data handset, we will encourage him to be able to access internet from his 2G data handset.”

Kapania also confirmed that Idea will be participating in the spectrum auction for renewal of its 900 MHz spectrum. Idea has about 59 MHz of spectrum coming up for renewal in the 900 Mhz band. It’s worth noting that Idea was the third highest depositor of Earnest Money Deposit (at Rs 4000 crore) among the telcos that have pre-qualified for spectrum auctions which are to be held on March 5 for the 2,100 Mhz, 1,800 Mhz, 900 Mhz and 800 Mhz bands.

LTE service launch: Kapania informed that Idea hasn’t decided yet when they will be launching LTE services. He explained that Idea is “a very return oriented company. We have bought 1800 MHz spectrum, 60 MHz in the February 2014 auction. Out of that, 45 MHz is in contiguous blocks which we have reserved for launch of LTE services but for us to be able to launch LTE services, first and foremost consumers have to make their move. As of now out of the 152 million total subscriber base that we have, there are less than 1 million customers across India who own 4G devices. Unless their quantities are large enough and at every site level, we find 500 to 700 customers who use LTE services, we are unlikely to launch. We would rather wait for market to launch or consumers to make the move.”

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