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Vodafone India now has 4G presence in 17 circles

Vodafone’s 4G network is now present in 17 telecom circles out of the 22 circles it operates in. The telco plans to launch 4G services in 2,400 towns by March 2017 using spectrum acquired during the 2016 auctions. The company claims that these 17 circles cover almost 91% of its overall data revenues. It recently launched 4G in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram, and Odisha.

The telco won 165.2 MHz spectrum under the 1800 MHz band (used for 4G), and 200 MHz of spectrum across both 2100 MHz and the 2500 MHz bands amounting to Rs  20,280 crore during last year’s auctions.

Vodafone’s competitor Airtel has 4G presence in 21 circles, while Idea Cellular has 4G presence in 10 circles and plans to hit 17 circles by March 2017 using newly spectrum in 2016 auctions. Idea has also announced additional investment of Rs 100 crore for launching 4G in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. New entrant Reliance Jio has 4G presence in all of the 22 circles it operates in and acquired 269.2 MHz spectrum during last year’s auctions before its commercial launch in August.

Vodafone is also betting on video streaming with its Vodafone Play service that aggregates over 150 live TV channels, movies, and TV show titles. The company had recently partnered with Eros Now for accessing its content library and removed subscription charges for the app last year. Interestingly Reliance Jio and Idea also has content distribution partnerships with Eros Now for their streaming platforms.

Apart from this Vodafone said it is also planning to launch payments bank operations by March; the company had received an in-principle approval from RBI for a payments bank license in August last year. Airtel had commenced its payments bank operations last week after initially piloting the service in Rajasthan, Karnataka, and Telangana in November last year.

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Vodafone subscriber base and financials

The telco had an overall subscriber base of 69.6 million subscribers as of Q2 FY17. Its 3G/4G base stood at 36 million during the same quarter. Note that Vodafone lost 100,000 data subscribers during the same quarter—just months after Jio announced its free calls and data offer. For Q2FY17, Vodafone India reported an overall service revenue of € 1,495 million, down from €1,505 million in same quarter the previous year. Data revenue growth slowed from 22% in the previous quarter to 16% in Q2FY17.

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