Vodafone Essar said it will spend around $ 500 million on its networks to roll out the third-generation (3G) services, which the country's second largest GSM operator hopes to do so commercially by the first quarter of next year.
With a soft launch in Mumbai on Thursday, Vodafone has become the second private telco in the country to showcase 3G services after Reliance Communications did last month. The state-run BSNL and MTNL are already offering this premium service from early this year.
"We will go for good coverage and will launch (3G) city by city in the first quarter of the next year. Because we are sure that we don't want to offer a patchy service. 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," its managing director and chief executive Marten Pieters said.
"We are taking time to launch here because we have learnt from our experience in Egypt and South Africa that a patchy offering will not work. Hence we are looking at investing $ 400-500 million to upgrade our networks," Pieters said, adding the company plans to complete rolling out 3G services in all its circles by the end of the first quarter of 2011.
Last week, the company had named Nokia Siemens Networks and Ericsson as its 3G equipment suppliers.
Vodafone has 3G licences in nine circles (if Chennai and Tamil Nadu circles are taken together) of the 22 circles, including the four metros. The company had paid Rs 11,600 crore in licence fees to the government after the nearly two-month long spectrum auctions this May.