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Vodafone says 4G trials in India have started

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Vodafone said it continued to face pressure in its voice business in India in the April-June quarter, but an explosion in data was helping it maintain margins.

It also said it had put in 1,100 new 3G towers during the quarter and has started 4G trials. It also added 1,000 2G sites.

Many Vodafone customers in places like Mumbai have sporadically reported seeing 4G signal from the operator.

However, Vodafone’s rate of adding towers is a fraction of the pace at which smaller competitor Idea Cellular is expanding.

Idea added 3,208 2G sites and 3,330 3G sites in the same three months.

Vodafone said its 3G outdoor population coverage in targeted urban areas is now 91%. “We remain on course for 95% 3G coverage in targeted urban areas by the end of the year,” it said.

Total mobile service revenue increased by a modest 6.9%. Growth rate slowed due to the impact of regulation, including the termination charge cut, it said.

Excluding MTRs, service revenue grew by 10.6%* (Q4: 13.2%*), with continued customer base growth and an acceleration in the take-up of 3G offsetting continued pressure on voice pricing.

Data revenue grew 65% supported by the addition of 3.1 million new data customers, taking the total to 66.8 million.

Smartphone penetration is now 26% across the country and 47% in the four metro circles and we now have 22 million 3G customers compared to 10 million a year ago.

“While total voice traffic continues to grow, the outgoing rate per minute has continued to decline, reflecting increased competition. The average minutes of use per customer is lower than a year ago but has increased slightly compared to the previous quarter,” Vodafone India said.

Total mobile customers increased 1.6 million giving a closing customer base of 185.4 million.

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