The newest entrant to the Indian 3G market is Aircel, with the operator announcing that it has begun offering services in Chennai.
The next three years will reportedly see the operator spend US$3 billion on deploying infrastructure across the 13 telecoms circles for which it holds spectrum licences.
Sandip Das, CEO of Maxis Communications – the Malaysian company which is the majority owner of Aircel – commented: "Our commitment to the market is underlined by the investment of over US$8 billion we have made already and a further US$3 billion we plan to spend in the next three years.”
Aircel’s 3G licences were purchased last year for INR65 billion (US$1.44 billion), but it also spent INR34.38 billion (US$759.5 million) on BWA spectrum. However, of note is the fact that its licences do not cover the key urban areas of Delhi and Mumbai, which command higher spectrum prices due to their larger populations; rural areas seem to form the basis of the operator’s strategy.
Contracts have been awarded to various vendors – among them NSN and ZTE – for the build-out of the network, which is currently the eighth largest in the country with around 50 million subscribers. 3G services are already offered by several of India’s larger operators, including Tata Teleservices, Bharti Airtel and Reliance.