Vodafone Essar outlines 3G plans
India's Vodafone Essar plans to launch 3G services in early 2011 and has earmarked up to $500 million (€359 million) for 3G investment.
The operator, which won 3G licenses for nine of India's 22 telecom circles, will carry out a phased launch in the first quarter, starting in the metro areas of Delhi and Mumbai, the Economic Times said.
Vodafone Essar last week chose Nokia Siemens and Ericsson as its 3G suppliers.
Managing director Martin Peters said the operator was in talks with 3G operators in other zones - such as Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular - over a network-sharing deal, The Hindu reported.
Vodafone Essar is the second Indian 3G auction winner to announce a launch schedule for 3G services. Tata DoCoMo plans to kick off services on November 5.
Private operators BSNL and MTNL are already offering 3G services, having acquired spectrum well in advance of the auction. But rollouts and take-up have been limited.
Vodafone Essar is 67% owned by Vodafone and 33% by the Essar group. The company currently has around 116 million subs, according to regulator Trai, putting it third behind Bharti and Reliance.
Vodafone paid 116.18 billion rupees ($2.62b) for its 3G spectrum - the second highest price paid next to Bharti Airtel's 122.95 billion rupees.