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Late adoption aids in cost-efficient 5G deployment, meets rollout obligations in four circles – ET Telecom

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In Short:

Vodafone Idea, the third-largest telco in India, is planning to adopt 5G technology late to cut costs. The company has completed 5G rollout in four circles with 90% of TDD radios and all new basebands being 5G-ready. Vi aims to launch 5G services in six to seven months and increase ARPU to support future investments. The telco has approved a massive refinancing plan of up to Rs 45,000 crore to raise funds for expansion.

Vodafone Idea Strategically Plans for 5G Deployment

Vodafone Idea (Vi) recently announced that the late adoption of 5G technology will help it deploy the technology cost-efficiently. The third-largest telco in India has completed its 5G minimum rollout obligation in four circles with four vendors. Vi mentioned that 90% of its TDD radios are 5G-ready and all new basebands are 5G-capable.

Deployment of Advanced Technologies

Vi has deployed virtualised Radio Access Network (vRAN) and Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) architectures. Testing of the Vi AirFiber home broadband solution with multiple partners has also been conducted. The telco has set up a Pan-India 5G NSA capable Core network to handle various services including mobile broadband, data, voice, and enterprise services.

Plans for 5G Launch

Vi aims to launch 5G services in the next six to seven months, as per the statement made by Vi CEO Akshaya Moondra during the earnings call in January. Mavenir, a US telecom gear maker, is in the advanced commercial phase of an ORAN network pilot deployment for Vi, which began in September 2023.

Focus on Revenue Growth

Vi emphasized the need for an increase in Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) to generate reasonable returns and support future investments. The telco believes that further tariff hikes are necessary to align with the usage and paying capacity of customers. Vi also has investment focus in 17 circles to enhance competitiveness in priority markets.

Strategic Focus Areas

Vi’s strategic focus areas include capacity expansion to meet increasing data demand, re-farming spectrum bands for providing 4G services, and deploying small cells in hotspot locations to enhance customer experience. The telco estimates that 42% of subscribers can potentially upgrade to the 4G network.

Massive Refinancing Plan

Vodafone Idea has announced a massive refinancing plan of up to Rs 45,000 crore through a combination of equity and debt. The board has approved an equity fund raise of up to Rs 20,000 crore through various instruments like convertible debentures, warrants, or other securities convertible into Equity Shares.

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