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Vodafone Idea Limited
Traded as
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1995; 23 years ago (1995)
Headquarters Mumbai, India[1]
Key people

Kumar Mangalam Birla (Chairman)

Himanshu Kapania (Managing Director)
Products Mobile telephony, wireless broadband
Revenue Decrease 35,475.7 crore (US$5.3 billion) (2016)[2]
Decrease 10,291.9 crore (US$1.5 billion) (2016)[2]
Decrease -831.1 crore (US$−120 million) (2016)[2]
Members 216.76 million (April 2018)
Parent Aditya Birla Group

Idea Cellular (commonly referred to as simply Idea, and stylised as !dea) is an Indian mobile network operator based at Mumbai, Maharashtra. Idea is a pan-India integrated GSM operator offering 2G, 3G and 4G mobile services. Idea is India’s largest mobile operator along with merged entity Vodafone by subscriber base (List of mobile network operators of India). Idea has 216.76 million subscribers as of April 2018.[3]



Idea Cellular started its journey in 1995 as Birla Communications Limited with GSM licenses in Gujarat and Maharashtra circles. In 1996 it changed its name to Birla AT&T Communications Limited following the joint venture between Grasim Industries and AT&T Corporation. In 2001 it changed its name to Birla Tata AT&T as a joint venture between Aditya Birla Group, Tata Group and AT&T Wireless. The company named its brand Idea in 2002.[4] Following AT&T Wireless' merger with Cingular Wireless in 2004, Cingular decided to sell its 32.9% stake in Idea. This stake was bought by the remaining two stakeholders equally.[5] Tata forayed into the cellular market with its own subsidiary, Tata Indicom, a CDMA-based mobile provider and in April 2006, Aditya Birla Group announced the acquisition of the 48.18% stake held by Tata Group at INR 40.51 a share amounting to INR 44.06 billion with 15% of the stake acquired by Aditya Birla Nuvo and the remaining by Birla TMT holdings Private Ltd, both AV Birla family owned companies. Malaysia based Axiata bought a 19.96% stake in the company in 2009.

Radio frequency summaryEdit

Idea Cellular owns spectrum in 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2500 MHz bands across the country.[6]

Telecom circle coverage E-GSM
Band 8
Band 3
Band 1
Band 40
Band 41
Andhra Pradesh & Telangana          
Maharashtra & Goa          
Tamil Nadu          
Madhya Pradesh & Chhattisgarh          
Uttar Pradesh (East)          
Uttar Pradesh (West)          
West Bengal          
Bihar & Jharkhand          
Himachal Pradesh          
Jammu and Kashmir          
North East          

Note: the above table contains Vodafone-Idea (merged entity) radio frequency details because they share their networks with each other via ICR (intra-circle roaming agreement) in some circles. For example, Idea has started it's customers in Delhi access 4G services in May 2018 via the Vodafone network.[7] [8]

Merger with Vodafone IndiaEdit

On 20 March 2017, Idea and Vodafone India announced that their respective boards had approved a merger of the two companies. The merger will not include Vodafone's 42% stake in Indus Towers Ltd. The merger will create the largest telecom company in India by subscribers and by revenue. Under the terms of the deal, the Vodafone Group will hold a 45.1% stake in the combined entity, the Aditya Birla Group will hold 26% and the remaining shares will be held by the public. The merger is expected to be completed by March 2019, and the newly merged entity will be named Vodafone Idea Ltd.[9][10]


Idea competes with other major mobile operators including Airtel, Vodafone (pending the merger), BSNL, and Reliance Jio. Several smaller operators – Reliance Communications, Aircel, Telenor and Tata DoCoMo – with whom Idea competed are now in the process of closing down their businesses.[11] While Idea competed very closely with operators like Reliance Communications, BSNL, Tata, Aircel in circa 2006–07, as of 31 December 2015, Idea has gone far ahead of the rest of these competitors with a Revenue Market Share of over 18.5% while the rest remain below 9%. Over the last 3 years,[when?] Idea has cornered an incremental Revenue Market Share of 33% giving tough competition to market leaders Airtel and Vodafone by earning 1/3rd of the incremental market – way above its fair share of the market.

On 19 May 2010, in the 3G spectrum auction Idea paid 57.68 billion (US$860 million) for spectrum in 11 circles.[12] Idea launched its first 3G services in 2011. As of 31 Mar 2016, Idea Cellular offers 3G services on its own spectrum in 13 telecom service areas—the latest being Delhi (NCR) and Kolkata. Idea has now launched its own 4G LTE services in over 350 towns across 10 telecom service areas including its leadership service areas like Maharashtra, Kerala, MP&CG, AP&T, Punjab and Haryana. It now provides 4G services in the service areas of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu covering large metros and mini metros of Chennai and Bengaluru.

Idea strengthened its customer base after the launch of MNP in India. As per information in the public domain, in 2016 Idea led the net port-ins and was ahead of both Airtel and Vodafone in gaining from Mobile Number Portability.[13]


  1. ^ "Idea Cellular – Cell Phone Services". Retrieved 28 June 2012. [permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "Consolidated Result 2016-17". 
  3. ^ "Press Release No. 23/2018" (PDF). Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. 16 February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Cingular Allows Agreement to Sell Stake in Indian Wireless Service Provider to Expire". U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved 2015-06-07. 
  6. ^ Pan India 2016 spectrum holding data sheet (updated), Telecom Talk, retrieved 15 July 2018 
  7. ^ Idea Cellular 4G Services Now Live in Delhi Via ICR With Vodafone, Telecom Talk, retrieved 15 July 2018 
  8. ^ Idea to launch VoLTE in March, inks 4G ICR agreement with Vodafone, ET Telecom, retrieved 15 July 2018 
  9. ^ "Idea approves merger with Vodafone India, to create India's largest telco". The Economic Times. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  10. ^ Kurup, Rajesh (20 March 2017). "Idea Cellular board approves merger with Vodafone India; shares tank 9%". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 20 March 2017. 
  11. ^ Raj, Amrit (2017-10-21). "The shakeup in India's telecom sector". Retrieved 2018-04-21. 
  12. ^ Pahwa, Nikhil (19 May 2010). "India's 3G Auction Ends; Operator And Circle-Wise Results". MediaNama. 
  13. ^ Abbas, Muntazir (2016-04-13). "Five years on, Idea, Vodafone, Airtel emerge top gainers in MNP: Kotak". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2018-04-21. 

External linksEdit