Vodafone Idea, the country’s largest telecom service provider by active subscribers, has issued an appeal on social media urging its partners and customers not to get taken in by ‘fake news’.
“Don’t believe fake news. Vodafone Idea Ltd remains committed to all its partners and customers,” the company said in a message posted on its Facebook wall.
The clarification comes in the wake of rumors — possibly spread by rivals — that the company is about close down its operations.
The rumors are designed to create uncertainty in the minds of customers, employees and business partners, and make it even more difficult for the company to continue its operations.
This is the second time the company is clarifying such rumors.
Vodafone Idea had, at the beginning of this month, issued an official statement to the media that all speculation about the company selling itself or shutting down its operations were unwarranted and that it had no such plans.
However, the company has trimmed some of its aggressive expansion plans.
Detailing its July-September performance last week, Vodafone Idea announced that it no longer planned to expand its 4G network in certain ‘non-priority’ areas this year, and cut its full-year capital expenditure target from Rs 17,000 cr to Rs 13,000 cr.
While part of the reason for the cut was due to a lower projected cost of equipment, part of it was due to the elimination of “non-priority” areas from its 4G network roadmap for the year, the company said.
In its update today, Vodafone Idea said its 4G expansion plan for the current year would still be enough to bring 100 cr, or about 74%, of all Indians under its 4G signals by March.
It also pointed out that it continues to have the highest amount of spectrum of any telecom player in the country.
“[We are] committed to India with large Vodafone Group and ABG [Aditya Birla Group] investments,” it reasserted today.
Partly in response to such assertions and partly due to market developments, Vodafone Idea’s stock has nearly doubled in value to Rs 6.15 since last week, when it announced its quarterly results.
The stock got a boost after Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel — who control about two thirds of the telecom connections in the country — yesterday announced plans to increase their tariffs from December 1.
VODAFONE IDEA vs AIRTEL
Vodafone Idea had 4.05 lakh broadband (3G/4G) base stations on its network as of September 30, compared to about 4.62 lakh for Bharti Airtel and around 7.5 lakh for Reliance Jio.
During the three months from July to September, the company added 18,000 4G base stations, comparable to Bharti Airtel’s addition of 18,000 4G base stations during the same period.
However, Vodafone Idea counts the addition of a capacity layer (TDD) on to its existing 4G network as an incremental addition, while it is not clear if Airtel also counts such augmentation as the addition of a separate base station or not.
Excluding the TDD additions, Vodafone Idea added 12,000 new base stations during the quarter, more in line with the trend in recent months.
Vodafone Idea also added 5.5 million new 4G customers during the three months, compared to 8 million added by Airtel over the same period. It had 90.3 million 4G subscribers at the end of the period, compared to 103.11 million for Airtel.
In terms of data volumes, Vodafone Idea carried 3.49 trillion MBs of data on its network during the three-month period, compared to 4.83 trillion MBs carried by Bharti Airtel during the same period.
The company, which has been busy integrating and de-duplicating the two networks of Vodafone and Idea for the last one year, said its overall network base station numbers will start showing growth in coming quarters.
Nevertheless, the company is yet to complete the network integration of its six key states — Maharasthra, Kerala, UP West, UP East, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.