India's third largest telecom operator Idea Cellular has recently said that during last financial year it has added 50,004 mobile sites (2G+3G+4G), expanding its network to 241,540 sites, including 70 percent increase in its wireless broadband site (3G+4G) count from 64,703 sites as on March 31, 2016 to 110,054 sites as of March 31, 2017.
The company said it has expanded its fiber network by 25 percent from 115,500 km (March 31, 2016) to 144,600 km as on March 31, 2017. The overall Capex spend for the year was Rs. 78.5 billion, mainly funded from FY17 Cash Profit at Rs. 69.4 billion and the gross investment in fixed assets has risen to nearly Rs. 1,185 billion, an addition of Rs. 198 billion in last 12 months.
Idea also said that Idea Cellular also said that it will launch 4G services in Mumbai by the end of May 2017. With this, it will be offering broadband services (3G and or 4G) on its own spectrum across all 22 service areas and during the fourth quarter, Idea launched its 4G offerings in 8 service areas of Gujarat, UPW, UPE, Rajasthan, Bihar, West Bengal, Assam and J&K, thus expanding its 4G broadband services to 19 telecom circles.
Idea's overall spectrum holding of 891.2 MHz across 900, 1800, 2100, 2300 & 2500 MHz equips it with an ability to roll out broadband which can carry 15-20 times of its current mobile data traffic. The capex guidance for FY18 is Rs. 60 billion, an investment earmarked for expanding broadband coverage, increase wireless data capacity with planned launch of 2300 MHz spectrum network (2500 MHz spectrum rollout slated for FY19) & introduction of LTE voice services etc.
Meanwhile, the company is in merger talks with Vodafone India to create India's largest telecom operator.
The combined company would become the leading communication provider in India with 400 million customers, 35% Customer Market Share and 41% Revenue Market Share (based on Q3FY17 TRAI release).
The merger transaction is subject to approval by the relevant regulatory authorities & Idea's shareholders. Vodafone & Idea have initiated necessary steps to obtain regulatory approvals. A joint merger notification has been filed with the 'Competition Commission of India' (CCI) and the Scheme of Arrangement has been filled with SEBI & Stock Exchanges for their approvals.