Vodafone Idea to invest $6-6.6 billion to expand 4G, launch 5G – RCR Wireless News

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Vodafone Idea aims to expand 4G coverage in 17 priority circles and launch 5G in key geographies across India

Indian carrier Vodafone Idea confirmed plans to invest a total of INR500-550 billion ($6-6.6 billion) within the next three years, the carrier’s CEO Akshaya Moondra said during a conference call with investors.  

The executive said that the telco aims to expand 4G coverage in 17 priority circles, launch 5G in key geographies and increase capacity to meet increasing data demand, as well as expand its enterprise business.

“Our topmost priority is 4G coverage, because that was the only reason why we continue to lose subscribers. So for expanding that, the capex will be fairly accelerated,” Moondra said.

Vodafone Idea also said it aims to deploy 5G on a large scale in six months. The telco has already completed minimum 5G network rollout obligations in four circles – Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab — and is looking to complete the same minimum rollout obligations in Bihar and Mumbai.

“We are in discussion with various technology partners to finalize our 5G rollout plans…The main focus [is] going to be on main cities which see a large concentration of 5G devices,” Moondra said. “It is important to note that since we will be launching 5G now, we will be well-placed to effectively utilize our capex spends as we will be able to address the part of the capacity requirement via 5G instead of 4G,” he added.

The telco stated that its current 4G network currently covers over 1 billion people across India. The 4G subscriber base stood at 126.3 million at the end of March, up from 122.6 million at end-March 2023.

Vodafone Idea has reportedly accelerated negotiations with Nordic vendors Ericsson and Nokia with the main aim of upgrading its 4G network, according to local reports.

According to the reports, purchase orders for the network upgrade are expected to be issued in June or July and may include some initial orders for 5G equipment.

Last month, Vodafone Idea said it has concluded its $2.16 billion follow-on public offer (FPO). Vodafone Idea has also recently raised about $648.5 million from 74 anchor investors.

Vodafone Idea expects 5G technology to account for nearly 40% of its overall revenues in 24-to-30 months, according to recent press reports. This goal implies that Vodafone Idea will target 5G coverage in roughly the top 100 cities and towns that generate 40% of its current revenues, a company spokesperson said.

The Indian telco also noted that 90% of its radio gear is already 5G-ready.

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