In order to strengthen its presence in Punjab, a state considered as one of the most lucrative market for mobile operators, GSM player-Videocon Telecommunications Ltd. is planning to inject Rs 486 crore in the current financial year to extend its coverage across the state. The entire funding would be done by the Videocon Group.
Speaking to Business Standard, Videocon Telecommunications Ltd, Director & CEO, Arvind Bali said, “We launched our GSM services in Punjab in April 2010. Within a short span of time we managed to have 1.2 million customers. Further, we are also strengthening our coverage in the existing as well as other areas of the state. Currently, we are having around 2200 BTS( Base Transceiver Stations) sites and further, we are planning to add another 600 sites by the end of this fiscal. To undertake the expansion plan, we have earmarked Rs 486 crore for the current fiscal."
He mentioned that out of the total BTS to be added, 60 per cent would be at existing location, while rest would be allotted to new sites. “The addition will help us deliver superior services to subscribers across all major towns, national & state highways and important railway routes in Punjab including the Chandigarh region,” he added.
Videocon was the 7th GSM Mobile service operator in Punjab when it entered, the other six operators which were having operations in Punjab telecom circle were Airtel, BSNL, Vodafone Essar, Idea Cellular, Reliance Telecom and Tata Docomo, the GSM brand of Tata Teleservices Limited.
Aircel entered the market in August 2010, fueling the competition. Apart from 8 GSM players, three CDMA players, namely Reliance Communication, Tata Teleservices and HFCL Connect were also operating in the state.
According to COAI, the total GSM subscriber base in Punjab as on April 30, 2012 was 2.26 crore (approx. 22.63 million) excluding Reliance Telecom, Tata Docomo, Videocon and CDMA players. The data for March 31, 2012 stood at 2.25 crore (approx.22.5 million). On an average, the state is witnessing 1-2 per cent growth in subscribers base every month. Although in terms of subscribers growth the state is witnessing robust growth, however, the average revenue per user is still a concern for the GSM service providers in Punjab.
On being asked about the pan India expansion plans, he added, “Having already invested Rs 10,000 crore in telecom business, we have further plans to invest Rs 1,200 crore in the current fiscal, which includes circles like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai and Tamilnadu.”