Airtel Idea Deal ends; Idea picks Vodafone as next ICRA partner
Idea was offering 3G services through ICR with Airtel to their customers in Rajasthan and Karnataka. Now according to internal sources Bharti Airtel has finally scrapped the ICR deal. Idea cellular has chosen Vodafone India as its 3G partner under new ICR agreement. Idea customer will continue enjoy 3G services by using Vodafone’s 3G Network. Idea is making sure none of their customers suffer with 3G connectivity issue in both circles. Airtel Idea deal was done after the 3G auctions and still continue in some circles. But according to sources the Airtel Idea deal will end soon in other circles. Nilanjan Roy, Bharti Airtel CFO for India said in an interview few months ago:
“We are waiting for spectrum to be allocated. Definitely before the year goes out, we will be rolling out 3G in our gap circles and, consequently, we will phase out 3G ICR (intra-circle roaming).”
From last few years, top three operators were offering 3G services across India even where they don’t possess 3G spectrum thanks to ICR agreement signed between them to use 3G network of partner operator. It helped them to gain more data customers than rivals in last few years. But things started to change when Airtel and Vodafone won new 3G licenses for many circles in last spectrum auction. As operators started launching own 3G services to tap data market using newly acquired spectrum, the ICRA started to fade out.
But this time, largest telecom operator Airtel scrapped the 3G ICRA deal with Idea Cellular in Karnataka. The strange point is that Idea doesn’t possess 3G license there and was depending on Airtel to offer 3G services to their customers. Though both the companies declined to comment on this matter, customer care executives we spoke to confirmed this. However, to protect its 3G subscriber base Idea partnered with Vodafone which recently launched own 3G network there. Both Idea and Vodafone have similar subscriber base in the circle which is almost one-third of total customer base of Bharti Airtel.
Though, it’s true that Airtel has a robust data network when it comes to 3G in the state but as 4G is taking shape and customers having 4G smartphone are moving to 4G network for higher data speed, it wouldn’t impact much as Idea currently has the second largest 4G data network in Karnataka. However, we expect Airtel to push them behind soon as the Mittal led company has plans to expand 4G coverage to more areas by the end of this year.
Dear readers, if you’re from Rajasthan and Karnataka, using Idea Cellular share your thoughts on this move through comments.