Idea Cellular is taking a measured approach to roll out 4G services, in a phased manner, starting calendar year 2016. CEO Himanshu Kapania, told FE’s Pranav Nambiar & Rhik Kundu that the company will look at high performing markets to launch 4G services. Excerpts:
How are you planning to go about your 4G roll out?
We have procured 4G spectrum in 10 circles, and have spectrum in 13 circles. There are 4 circles where we don’t have 3G but 4G spectrum. Our mobile broadband is on ICR platform. Our first attempt will be to look at evolved 3G circles and launch our own 4G services. These are evolved states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, among others, including metros and mini-metros like Bangalore, Mangalore, and Chennai. The second approach is that within our 3G services there are pockets where demand for mobile internet outstrips supply. We are going to roll out 4G services there using overlay approach – where the network naturally shifts to 3G when 4G is not available. Our 4G approach will also include entering already evolved 3G markets where data uptake is high. We will roll out 4G by 2016 calendar year.
Are you planning to roll out auxiliary services like applications and mobile wallet, which will aid your topline and bottomline, on your 4G network?
Idea through its sister company has applied for a payment bank licence and is awaiting RBI’s decision. As far as digital services are concerned, we are evaluating services in the arena of entertainment, communications, utilities, etc.
You have raised capex gui-dance from R5,000-5,500 crore to R6,000-6,500 crore for the fiscal. Where will this sum be used?
The sum will be used to strengthen mobile data infrastructure.
What is your view on the department of telecom’s recent papers/recommendations on net neutrality and OTT players?
As operators we have welcomed it, we have always stated that the net should be neutral and we have to focus on connectivity to 1 billion internet users. We have maintained that for the same services, the same rules should be applied (in respect to OTTs).We fully support free internet.