Leading Indian operator Vodafone Idea (or Vi as it is now known) plans to upgrade its 3G users to 4G in key markets. However, it also plans to retain its 2G services.
That’s the news from a number of Indian outlets, which point out that the upgrade is part of Vi’s attempts to catch up with rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio, both of which can boast stronger 4G take-up across their footprints.
A statement released at the weekend said “VIL will now be able to offer faster 4G data speeds to its 3G users on the Vi GIGAnetnetwork,”. GIGAnet, an integrated 4G network, was launched after the merger of Vodafone India with Idea Cellular.
Enterprise customers currently using 3G based services will be upgraded to 4G and 4G-based IoT applications and services in what is described as a phased manner.
However Vi has said it will not bring a halt to its 2G services. How many of the company’s estimated 280 million subscribers are still using 2G is not clear, but it seems that Vi’s 2G service does have a large number of users, especially in rural areas.
The upgrade to 4G is understandable as the technology is likely to be an important part of the company’s drive to earn more revenue, given the recent trend towards customer losses. Indeed, while 280 million subscribers is not necessarily bad, it’s part of a downward trend that has seen Vi lose 4.82 million customers in June, while market leader Reliance Jio gained only slightly fewer customers – about 4.5 million.