Vodafone Idea CEO Akshaya Moondra on Friday said he does not see a significant disadvantage for the company due to the delay in 5G rollout as the handset market ecosystem is yet to evolve.
His comments follow the launch of 5G services by peers Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel in parts of the country last month. Vodafone Idea has not yet announced the timeline for a rollout of its 5G network.
“I do understand that the competition has already started rolling out (5G services), so we will be behind them,” Moondra told analysts at a conference call post-September quarter earnings.
“But given the way 5G handset market ecosystem has not started evolving and it will take some time, we don’t think it will be a major disadvantage if we are able to have the funding done in a couple of months and then the rollout on that basis,” he added.
Apart from the 5G rollout, Vodafone Idea’s expansion of 4G network coverage is also dependent on the fundraise. According to the company, a delay in funding is affecting the 4G network expansion, which in a way is also leading to a churn of subscribers.
During the September quarter, the company lost 6 million subscribers and its subscriber base fell to 234.4 million. However, the company added 1.6 million 4G subscribers during the quarter, taking its 4G base to 120.6 million.
“On coverage, where we don’t have a 4G network currently, that is definitely impacting us and part of the risk that we run to expand the 4G coverage is dependent on funding,” Moondra said, adding that the company is trying to close the funding quickly. Till the time, the company does not raise funds, it will not be able to increase its capital expenditure needed for network improvement and expansion. Once the fundraise happens, the telecom operator will first repay its operational dues which include payment to vendors, and then repay the bank dues.