Idea Cellular said that it will launch Voice over LTE (VoLTE) services in a phased manner for its customers from May 2018, having introduced the service for own employees in select circles.
Idea and Vodafone, currently in a process of merging operations, are under ‘Active infrastructure sharing’ programme and ‘2G & 4G ICR arrangements’ across various service areas, share around 49,000 sites.
The merger of Idea and Vodafone India is in the final leg of regulatory approvals and is expected to complete in H1CY18. Idea said that a planned fiber and PoP sharing programme is also underway in top 220 cities across the 22 telecom service areas.
The proposed new leadership team of merged entity was announced in March 2018. Both the companies have set up respective project management teams, preparing for the merger and initiated detailed planning for identified capex and opex synergies.
Idea's overall capex spend for the year was Rs 70 billion, majority of which was utilised for 4G expansion. The Aditya Birla Group-led telco said that it started deploying 2300 MHz TDD spectrum in its leadership circles of Maharashtra & Kerala and 2500 MHz TDD spectrum in Andhra Pradesh to further augment its wireless data capacity. The company expanded its fibre network from 115,500 km (31st March 2016) to 156,800 km as on 31st March 2018.
During the last fiscal year, Idea said that it continued aggressive expansion of its wireless broadband infrastructure, adding 44,856 broadband sites (3G+4G) during the year. The broadband sites increased from 110,054 as of March 31, 2017 to 154,910 sites as of March 31 2018, taking the overall network footprint on EoP to 286,356 sites (GSM+3G+4G).
The wireless broadband population under coverage now expands beyond 650 million Indians spread across 164,000 towns and villages in 22 service areas.
The company’s Gross Investment in Fixed Assets has risen to nearly Rs. 1,255 billion. "The monetisation of this front loaded large investment in spectrum & equipment is inevitable as Digital India mission gathers momentum and mobile internet penetration improves," the telco said.