To spend up to $500 million in the next few years

Third-largest mobile carrier Vodafone Essar will launch third-generation (3G) services in the January-March quarter of 2011 and plans to spend up to $500 million over the next few years on its 3G network, according to Managing Director Martin Pieters.

Vodafone is the second mobile operator to announce specific plans for 3G after Tata Teleservices, which earlier announced plans to launch the service on November 5.

Mr. Pieters said the company would price the services competitively and that he was optimistic on revenue from 3G services, which would facilitate features such as faster Internet on mobile phones and video calling. Vodafone Essar won 3G licences in nine of 22 telecom zones in the May auction. Last week, the company named Nokia Siemens Networks and Ericsson as its 3G equipment suppliers.

“Our approach is to give our customers a world-class experience and hence we will launch when a significant part of the cities is covered by our 3G network,'' said Mr. Pieters. “The introduction of 3G technology will be the catalyst for data revolution in India. Vodafone has been successful in delivering 3G services to many developed and emerging markets and we will be utilising our global expertise to offer an enhanced 3G experience to our customers in India,'' he said. Vodafone Essar has about 116 million 2G customers in India behind Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications.

Vodafone owns 67 per cent of Vodafone Essar, with the Essar group holding the balance. The Essar group has an option to sell its entire stake to Vodafone for $5 billion by May 2011.

Vodafone Essar was also talking to other operators such as Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular for arrangements to offer 3G services beyond the nine areas, Mr. Pieters said.

Keywords: Vodafone3G services

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