Vod India aims to triple data revenue

Melissa Chua
10 Jan 2012

Vodafone India is hoping to acquire more spectrum as it attempts to triple data revenue in one of the world’s largest markets.

Vodafone India’s director of strategy Samaresh Parida told Bloomberg News that the company expects data to account for 10% of the unit’s total revenue in two years, up from 3% end September last year.

Parida, however, said Vodafone India requires more spectrum in order to augment its data service portfolio and achieve its target. Vodafone India holds an average of 5 to 6 MHz of spectrum in most zones in India, a far cry from the 22 Mhz average held by the Vodafone Group’s units in other countries.

Parida further called for an organized roadmap from the government to detail when more spectrum would be auctioned. Vodafone India currently holds 3G licenses in 9 of India’s telecommunications zones.

Vodafone India spent some 116 billion rupees ($2.2 billion) buying 3G licenses in the 2010 3G and 4G spectrum auctions which netted the Indian government $20 billion. A new telecom policy is in the works, promising better balance between government revenue and operator margins.

Parida added Vodafone India would also look into acquiring competitors to boost spectrum share if rules regarding mergers and acquisitions were relaxed.

The Vodafone Group, which last year bought out partner Essar Group’s share in its India business for $5.46 billion, faces an uphill task promoting its 3G portfolio in India’s large but highly competitive market.

The market’s 14 mobile players, most of which offer GSM servers, have pushed average revenue per GSM user to 100 rupees ($1.90) at end March, down from 131 rupees a year earlier, according to data from regulator TRAI.

The country’s largest carrier Bharti Airtel counts only a quarter of its 7 million 3G customers as active users, a fraction of its 175 million strong customer base.

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