Telecom giant Vodafone Idea (Vi) plans is set to fold its 3G technology backed service arm by FY22. The company, already facing fund crunch plans to focus on becoming 4G-focussed telco to boost revenue. The company, however, plans to keep its 2G services running for years given that it has a large segment of basic phone subscribers.
“…Ideally, we should be done with our 3G closure in FY22,” Akshaya Moondra, Chief Financial Officer, Vodafone Idea said.
Senior company officials during a quarterly earnings call also allayed fears around delays in its Rs 25,000-crore fundraising plans and confirmed that the process will end soon. “The direction which we are taking is that 3G is not required anymore. It has been continued, only because some people have devices which can be used only on 3G and not on 4G,” Akshaya Moondra, Chief Financial Officer, Vodafone Idea told analysts. The telco still has around 11 million 3G users.
The company still has around 149 million of its total 268 million users on 2G. The company plans to continue its services for a ‘very long period of time,’ said Managing Director Ravinder Takkar, stressing that it can be used for voice and certain Internet of Things (IoT) services without any increase in costs.
Rival and market leader Reliance Jio – which runs a 4G-only network – has been pushing the authorities to intervene to ensure India has only the latest technology. But both Airtel and Vodafone Idea – being older operators – offer all three technologies, but have been taking steps to shut 3G services while keeping running. Airtel has some 133 million non-data, mainly 2G, users of its 308 million subscriber base.
While Airtel and Jio have announced their 5G plans, Vi is still in the process and claims that its network is also 5G ready but the ecosystem needs enough user case studies, spectrum in the 3500 Mhz band and handsets that can accommodate the next-generation services, for it to be truly launched in India.