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Aircel is an Indian mobile network operator headquartered in Gurgaon that offers voice and 2G, 3G and 4G data services. Maxis Communications holds a 74% stake and Sindya Securities and Investments holds the remaining 26%.[4] Aircel was founded by C Sivasankaran and commenced operations in Tamil Nadu in 1999. It is the fifth largest mobile service provider in India with a subscriber base of 90.32 million subscribers as of June 2017.[6][7] Aircel is a market leader in Tamil Nadu and has considerable presence in Odisha, Assam and North-East telecom circles.

Public company
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1999
Headquarters Gurgaon, Haryana, India
Key people
Kaizad Heerjee, CEO[1]
Products Mobile telephony, wireless broadband
Revenue Increase US$ 1.159 billion (2012)[2]
Members 90.34 million[3] (June 2015)
Parent Maxis (74%)[4]
Apollo Hospitals (Sindya Securities and Investments 26%)[5]



Aircel was founded by Chinnakannan Sivasankaran and started its operations in the Tamil Nadu telecom circle in 1999.[8] It became the leading operator in Tamil Nadu and one of the fastest growing mobile operators in India.[8] Malaysian telecom company Maxis Communications bought a 74% stake in the company from Sivasankaran in 2005. The remaining 26% stake is held by Sindya Securities and Investments promoted by Suneeta Reddy, Managing Director of Apollo Hospitals.

In 2012, as a part of a major re-organization in its operations, the company scaled down its operations in five telecom circles, namely Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala and Punjab. In April 2015, Aircel relaunched its service in Kerala.[9][10]

Merger with Reliance CommunicationsEdit

On 14 August 2016, Reliance Communications (RCom) and Maxis Communications announced that they would merge their mobile network operations. The deal is the largest consolidation in Indian telecom history, and will create the third largest mobile network operator in the country by subscribers and by revenue. RCom and Maxis will each hold 50% stake in the merged entity, with equal representation on the board of directors and all committees. RCom will continue to operate in the enterprise segment and data centre businesses as a standalone entity.[11][12] RCOM announced on 15 March 2017 that it had received approval for the deal from SEBI, BSE and NSE.[13][14][15] The deal was approved by the CCI on 20 March 2017.[16][17] The merger is expected to be completed in end of 2017.[18]



On 19 May 2010, the 3G spectrum auction in India ended. Aircel paid 65 billion for spectrum in 13 circles: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala, Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, North East, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, UP East and West Bengal.[19] It paid US$1.44 billion ( 79.1 billion) for the 3G spectrum.[8] The company, as of November 2012 has about 5 million 3G customers. Aircel has introduced new price plans for its consumers and are termed to be the cheapest in the country. Following the key players in 3G, Aircel also slashed its 3G tariff.[20] In 2011, Aircel became the launch partner for Apple iPhone 4 along with Bharti Airtel.[21]


In June 2010, Aircel paid 34.38 billion for acquiring wireless broadband spectrum in eight circles: Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, North East, Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.[22] Aircel launched 4G services in Tamil Nadu and Jammu & Kashmir in August 2014, becoming the only private telecom operator to offer all the three existing technologies of 2G, 3G and 4G in these markets.[23] Chinese equipment maker ZTE announced on 30 December 2013, that it had won a contract to deploy a 4G broadband network based on LTE technology for Aircel. The LTE network will be launched in Tamil Nadu and will be expanded later to other circles.[24][25] On 16 July 2014, it launched 4G services in four circles Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Odisha.[26]

Business SolutionsEdit

Aircel Business Solutions (ABS), part of Aircel, sells enterprise solutions such as Multiprotocol Label Switching Virtual Private Networks (MPLS VPNs), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and managed video services on wireless platforms including WI-AX.

Network connectivityEdit

Aircel offers poor network coverage in Delhi & NCR circle.[27] It uses radio link time out technology without which the call drop rates will be significantly higher and many costumes reported this .[28] In a survey conducted in 2015 by Mint and InstaVaani in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and Kolkata, it was found that Aircel offers best survey among all the telecom providers in the respective cities.[29]


As of June 2016, Aircel has a subscriber base of over 88 million and is India's sixth-largest GSM mobile service provider.[30] With presence in 22 circles, Aircel is a market leader in Tamil Nadu and has considerable presence in Odisha, Assam and North-East circles. In 2012, as a part of a major re-organization in its operations, the company scaled down its operations in five telecom circles, namely Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Kerala and Punjab. In April 2015, Aircel relaunched its service in Kerala.[31][32]

Sponsorship and brand ambassdorsEdit

Aircel is the main shirt sponsor of Indian Premier League cricket team Chennai Super Kings and I-League football team Shillong Lajong FC. Aircel is also the principal sponsor for Atlético de Kolkata FC who play in the Indian Super League football competition. It is also a major sponsor of the Chennai Open ATP tennis tournament and the Professional Golf Tour of India. Aircel also sponsors the Save the Tiger campaign for protecting India's tigers. The brand ambassadors of Aircel include the Indian cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Tamil actor Suriya. Aircel also engaged with boxer Mary Kom, Tamil actors Dhanush and Sameera Reddy.[33]


Aircel is being investigated by CBI for alleged irregularities in the Maxis takeover. According to CBI, Aircel's previous owner C. Sivasankaran was forced to sell his stake to Maxis by the then Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran in 2005 in return for Maxis' investment of Rs. 5 billion in a DTH company owned by the Maran family.[34] There were also rumours in September 2012 that the Russian company Sistema was in talks to acquire Aircel which wasn't confirmed by either companies.[35] Aircel was one among seven operators to receive notices from the Department of Telecommunications for not meeting radiation norms in their base tower stations in September 2012.[36] Aircel scaled down services in five circles leading to shutting down of cell sites which left many of its customers without coverage. Users had to travel to areas covered by Aircel in order to obtain a porting code.[37]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "About Aircel" (PDF). Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Aircel: Banking on the Future". Voice & Data. 24 July 2012. Archived from the original on 19 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "Telecom Subscription data, June 2015" (PDF). TRAI. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "The Star - Business - Maxis owns 74% of Aircel". 29 August 2009. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Apollo group, Prathap C. Reddy have no investment in Aircel". 
  6. ^ "Mobile suscribers in india as on 31 March 2017". 26 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "Telecom Subscription data, June 2015" (PDF). TRAI. Retrieved 28 November 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c "Aicel: What the future holds". Light Reading India. 15 September 2012. 
  9. ^ "Aircel to withdraw from 5 circles". Daily News and Analysis. 13 October 2012. 
  10. ^ "Aircel to cut 600 jobs". Times of India. 13 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "RCom, Aircel announce merger; create fourth largest telco in India - Times of India". Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  12. ^ Pandey, Piyush (2016-09-14). "RCom-Aircel merger a strong challenger to Idea Cellular". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2016-09-14. 
  13. ^ "Reliance Communications Gets SEBI, Exchanges Nod For Aircel Merger". NDTV. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  14. ^ India, Press Trust of (15 March 2017). "Reliance Comunications gets Sebi nod for merger with Aircel". Business Standard India. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  15. ^ Bureau, Our (15 March 2017). "RCom-Aircel merger gets SEBI nod". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  16. ^ Feeds, IANS (20 March 2017). "RCOM gets CCI approval for Aircel merger". Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  17. ^ Lead, Telecom (20 March 2017). "RCOM-Aircel merger deal gets CCI approval". TelecomLead. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  18. ^ "RCom says Aircel merger to be completed by 2017 middle, MTS merger by March". Telecom Talk. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  19. ^ "India's 3G Auction Ends; Operator And Circle-Wise Results". Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  20. ^ "Aircel cuts 3G tariffs in India". The Times Of India. 5 June 2012. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  21. ^ "• Aircel •". Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  22. ^ Pahwa, Nikhil (11 June 2010). "India's Broadband Wireless Auction Ends; Operator & Circlewise Results". Medianama. Delhi. Retrieved 21 May 2013. 
  23. ^ "Aircel launches 4G services in Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir". Times Of India. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  24. ^ "ZTE bags 4G contract from Aircel". The Hindu BusinessLine. Chennai. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Aircel selects ZTE for 4G network rollout". The Times of India. Mumbai. 30 December 2013. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Aircel launches First 4G Mobile Services in Bihar". IANS. Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  27. ^ Press Trust of India (15 October 2015). "Call drops: Trai to impose up to Rs2 lakh penalty for poor service But Aircel Not improved their Network". Mint. New Delhi. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  28. ^ Srivastava, Moulishree (2 June 2016). "Trai wants powers to impose penalties as telcos fail call drop test". Business Standard. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  29. ^ Shashidhar, Karthik; Ghosh, Shauvik (8 July 2015). "India's best and worst telecom firms". Mint. Retrieved 5 June 2016. 
  30. ^ "Highlights of Telecom Subscription Data as on 30th June, 2016" (PDF). Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. Retrieved 6 October 2016. 
  31. ^ "Aircel to withdraw from 5 circles". Daily News and Analysis. 13 October 2012. 
  32. ^ "Aircel to cut 600 jobs". The Times of India. 13 October 2012. 
  33. ^ "Aicel: What the future holds (Page 3)". Light Reading India. 15 September 2012. 
  34. ^ "Maran-Maxis deal". Times of India. 27 July 2012. 
  35. ^ "Sistema to acquire Aircel?". Times of India. 14 September 2012. 
  36. ^ "Aircel gets DoT notice". Times of India. 14 September 2012. 
  37. ^ "Aircel network closed". Retrieved 21 May 2013. 

External linksEdit