Idea Cellular India, the third largest mobile operator has launched high-speed fourth-generation (4G) mobile services throughout South India, beating the much anticipated debut of rival Reliance
Jio. A handful of big cities have been covered immediately, but all cities and towns in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana would be covered by 2016.
Reliance Industries, headed by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, has yet to announce a date for its own implementation of what will be the nation's largest 4G broadband network bandwidth. The impact of this version, however, has already been heard with increasing pressure on the country's heavily indebted telecom companies including Reliance Communications, owned by the younger Ambani brother, Anil Ambani. RCom announced on Tuesday it was in talks with rival Aircel to become the second largest mobile operator in India.
Reliance mobile is India's fourth-largest by number of customers, while Aircel is fifth. The combined business would exceed Vodafone's Indian operation as number two in the sector.
India is the second largest telecommunications market in the world, behind China in terms of mobile subscriptions, but tough competition means lower margins for 10 carriers.
Reliance Communications, controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani, has entered into a 90 days period of exclusive talks with Aircel. Financial details of the proposed transaction were not disclosed.
In the first sign of consolidation in the industry last year, Reliance Communications agreed to
buy Russian business conglomerate of Indian System of mobile telephony in an all stock deal.
Telecom major Idea Cellular is considering a hike in data load as trying to improve their margins hit by competitive prices, sources said.
While a spokesman did not respond to repeated requests in this regard, the company sources have said there are plans to increase the price points for data in the coming weeks, but the hike will vary from market to market and will depend on the competition.
The company will continue to remain competitive in circles they operate, they added. For example, the price of 1 GB of data for more than 30 days in Kolkata is Rs. 123 in a special scheme and this may be revised upwards to about Rs. 150, sources said.
Idea continues to expand and strengthen its network and recently announced its 3G services in Kolkata on 2100MHz spectrum band, which was purchased through auction earlier this year.
The telecommunications operator which last month said, it has agreed to buy the radio airwaves in two areas from smaller rival Videocon Telecommunications for Rs. 3,310 crore, to increase its high-speed data services.
The deal comes a month after the government allowed carriers to sell spectrum, a move aimed at improving services in the world's second largest market by number of mobile telephony customers.
In India, more and more congested airwaves have led to problems such as the increasing call drops and cut in half the conversations and connectivity issues, even though more and more users hook to the Internet on their phones and tablets.